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2004 Ford F-250- Stormtrooper Special

Adding the Heavy Armor to a Lifted Super Duty

Feb 1, 2016
Photographers: Jeremy Cook, Anthony Soos
Several months back, we started working on a 2004 F-250 that has seen many miles of desert terrain over the years. Although it is still in relatively good shape, it was high time to get to work on the stock 6.0L diesel, while also dressing up the front end with a new black grille and headlights. We had started a transition to the black, smoked look, but never got around to finishing it up.
The plan had always been to black out and beef up the front bumper and side steps to replace the chrome and faded plastic look. And now, we finally accomplished that with help from N-Fab and Rigid Industries. The star of the show is the full-replacement RSP front bumper, which is all one piece from light mount to skidplate, and fits our bill by coming standard in powdercoated black. It also comes ready to mount a pair of 38-inch LEDs from Rigid Industries, so that is exactly what we ordered up. N-Fab also manufactures the AdjustSTEP adjustable-height nerf steps to replace the stockers with an item that adds a ton of form and function and also happens to come in powdercoated black. At that point, we were stuck with two lone chrome parts on the truck—the rear bumper and grille shell. The remedy was to pull the bumper off, strip it down, and send it out for powdercoating at the always-on-point Specialized Coatings. Meanwhile, we prepped and painted the stock grille shell with Eastwood’s Rust encapsulating paint, not to protect the plastic from the elements, but for a textured look that would contrast perfectly with the glossy grille insert.
We spent two afterhours sessions in the shop performing the install, with no major hang-ups to mention. Everything bolted up as promised, and the overall finished look was just as Stormtrooper as we had hoped. Follow along for the particulars, and check out the N-Fab and Rigid Industries websites to see what they have for your truck.
Photo 2/39   |   04 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
It was looking OK and all, but we started the blacking-out process and never finished. That giant chrome bumper was just screaming to be replaced.
Photo 3/39   |   03 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
N-Fab comes to the rescue. The company’s full replacement RSP front bumper (PN F992LRSP), features an all-bolt-on design that won’t flex and welded one-piece construction for strength and longevity. It also has .095 wall tubing with gloss black powdercoated finish, a heavy-duty skidplate, and best of all, can house two Rigid 38-inch LED lightbars.
Photo 4/39   |   02 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
The N-Fab AdjustSTEP (PN ASF99100CC) is built around N-Fab's patented mounting system and 3-inch wheel-to-wheel main tube assembly, allowing up to 5 1/2-inches vertical height adjustment at each step. The nerf steps are equipped with steps for each door and offers additional steps for bed access.
Photo 5/39   |   01 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
The bumper was designed for them, so we had to opt for a pair of 38-inch Rigid Industries LED lightbars. The top bar (shown) is the E-Series Hybrid Spot and Flood Combo (PN 138312), while the bottom light is E2-Series Specter Hyperspot and Driving Combo (PN 12731). Both come with mounting hardware and a full wiring harness that is about as plug-and-play as humanly possible.
Photo 6/39   |   05 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
The AdjustSTEP will replace these stock, faded plastic side steps.
Photo 7/39   |   06 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
We started by removing the grille and unbolting the insert from the shell.
Photo 8/39   |   07 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
We prepped the stock chrome shell for paint by scrubbing with red Scotch Brite. Then we sprayed it with Eastwood’s Textured Rust Encapsulator.
Photo 9/39   |   08 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
The textured finish will match the side steps and provide a nice contrast with the gloss black bumper and grille insert.
Photo 10/39   |   09 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
The next item to go is the stock bumper. The plan was to remove the bumper and plastics all in one piece.
Photo 11/39   |   10 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
We started under the fenderwell with the outer brackets and repeated the process on the other side.
Photo 12/39   |   11 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
Next, we hit the four front bolts on either side of the bumper.
Photo 13/39   |   12 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
At that point, we lifted the bumper off and set it aside.
Photo 14/39   |   13 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
Next to go were the factory tow hooks that reside in the framed rails.
Photo 15/39   |   14 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
Each stock side step has four pairs of bolts that fasten them to the underside of the cab just above the pinch weld.
Photo 16/39   |   15 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
We made quick work of all of them with an air ratchet.
Photo 17/39   |   16 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
The steps simply dropped out and went to the scrap pile.
Photo 18/39   |   17 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
The next item slated for removal was the rear bumper. We located all the bracket bolts and buzzed them off with an impact.
Photo 19/39   |   18 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
We set the bumper on a stand to make it easier to unplug the wiring harness for the license-plate lights and back-up sensors.
Photo 20/39   |   19 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
Now, we carefully removed the various clips and plugs and plastic caps from the steel portion of the bumper so it could be sent over to Specialized Coatings in Huntington Beach for sandblasting and a glossy black coating.
Photo 21/39   |   20 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
You know how we do it here at Truckin. We spent quality time with the Scotch Brite and lacquer thinner to prep the remaining frontend components before coating them with Eastwood’s Chassis Black.
Photo 22/39   |   21 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
Finally, we were ready for reassembly. All the backing parts have been cleaned up, painted black, and looking good.
Photo 23/39   |   22 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
Installing the N-FAB bumper could not be simpler, although recruiting a few people really makes the process easy.
Photo 24/39   |   23 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
Simply set it on to the frame rails and bolt it up with the supplied hardware.
Photo 25/39   |   24 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
The Rigid lightbars are next up. The studs on each end slide easily into the oversized holes on either end.
Photo 26/39   |   25 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
These custom-machined alloy nuts fit through the bumper and thread onto the studs.
Photo 27/39   |   26 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
Finally, we use a coupler nut and wrench to tighten the lights down.
Photo 28/39   |   27 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
The inverted nuts look cool and also act as a theft deterrent. We set the wiring harnesses in the engine compartment and routed the wires below the grille to plug into the lightbars.
Photo 29/39   |   28 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
Up in the engine compartment, we continued along the lines and connected the positive and negative wires to the battery. Not the most sano of installs, but we’ll address that later.
Photo 30/39   |   29 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
Next in line are the relays, which we simply mounted onto an open space on the inner fender with self-tappers.
Photo 31/39   |   30 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
We ran the last of the harness through the firewall and up to the dash just above the fuse-access panel. It was a simple matter to drill holes in the dash, plug in the lighted toggle switches, and snap them into place. Rigid gives you enough length to put both the relays and the switches just about anywhere you want.
Photo 32/39   |   31 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
Earlier, we showed you the staggered bolts that hold the stock side steps in place. With these U-clips provided by N-FAB, you can increase the bolts per bracket to three or four.
Photo 33/39   |   32 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
We added the clips to any open holes we were using and had help holding things in place while we tightened up the bolts.
Photo 34/39   |   33 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
A week later, we got back our freshly powdercoated rear bumper and took our time bolting, clipping, and plugging everything back together.
Photo 35/39   |   34 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
Once the brackets were bolted back in place, we snapped the bumper caps back in.
Photo 36/39   |   35 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
Reattaching the rear bumper is another job that can be done with two people, but sure is a lot easier with three. After this step, we were back on the road.
Photo 37/39   |   36 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
The AdjustSTEPs run from wheel to wheel and look great on our Super Duty thanks to their snug fit against the body. We have the steps adjusted all the way up for added clearance, but they can be dropped down another 6 inches for trucks with bigger lifts.
Photo 38/39   |   37 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
We would have looked pretty silly if the only thing left that was chrome was the rear bumper. Specialized Coatings knocked it out of the park, as usual.
Photo 39/39   |   38 2004 Ford F 250 NFab Bumper Rigid Lightbar
The Stormtrooper transformation is complete! What a difference a few days makes. Our N-Fab bumper and Rigid lights represent the best in form and function in off-road accessories. Stay tuned to see what we have in store next for this F-250.

Sources

Eastwood Company
Pottstown, PA 19464
800-343-9353
http://www.eastwood.com
Rigid Industries
Mesa, AZ 85215
855-760-5337
www.rigidindustries.com
Specialized Coatings
Huntington Beach, CA 92649
714-901-2628
www.specializedcoatings.com
N-Fab
866-806-6322
www.n-fab.com

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