2004 Ford F-250- Stormtrooper Special
Adding the Heavy Armor to a Lifted Super Duty
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The AdjustSTEP will replace these stock, faded plastic side steps.
We started by removing the grille and unbolting the insert from the shell.
We prepped the stock chrome shell for paint by scrubbing with red Scotch Brite. Then we sprayed it with Eastwood’s Textured Rust Encapsulator.
The textured finish will match the side steps and provide a nice contrast with the gloss black bumper and grille insert.
The next item to go is the stock bumper. The plan was to remove the bumper and plastics all in one piece.
We started under the fenderwell with the outer brackets and repeated the process on the other side.
Next, we hit the four front bolts on either side of the bumper.
At that point, we lifted the bumper off and set it aside.
Next to go were the factory tow hooks that reside in the framed rails.
Each stock side step has four pairs of bolts that fasten them to the underside of the cab just above the pinch weld.
We made quick work of all of them with an air ratchet.
The steps simply dropped out and went to the scrap pile.
The next item slated for removal was the rear bumper. We located all the bracket bolts and buzzed them off with an impact.
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.
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.
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.
Finally, we were ready for reassembly. All the backing parts have been cleaned up, painted black, and looking good.
Installing the N-FAB bumper could not be simpler, although recruiting a few people really makes the process easy.
Simply set it on to the frame rails and bolt it up with the supplied hardware.
The Rigid lightbars are next up. The studs on each end slide easily into the oversized holes on either end.
These custom-machined alloy nuts fit through the bumper and thread onto the studs.
Finally, we use a coupler nut and wrench to tighten the lights down.
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.
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.
Next in line are the relays, which we simply mounted onto an open space on the inner fender with self-tappers.
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.
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.
We added the clips to any open holes we were using and had help holding things in place while we tightened up the bolts.
A week later, we got back our freshly powdercoated rear bumper and took our time bolting, clipping, and plugging everything back together.
Once the brackets were bolted back in place, we snapped the bumper caps back in.
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.
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.
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.
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.