2017 Ford F-250: LGE-CTS Super Duty Build, Part Two
LGE-CTS creates custom Baja Forged fiberglass body panels for an Alumi-Duty truck.
You may remember the LGE-CTS Super Duty from just a couple issues back, on which we installed a 3-inch Icon Vehicle Dynamics lift along with a set of 20-inch SOTA Offroad Novakane wheels and 37-inch Nitto Trail Grappler M/T tires. It was one of a few trucks and SUVs presented by LGE-CTS at SEMA 2017, and the exterior was getting the full treatment to finish off the custom off-road look. You may have noticed the slightly wider stance of the finished product, due to the custom fiberglass fenders and bedsides LGE-CTS is now producing.
The company's new Baja Forged line began with a collaboration with a local fiberglass parts manufacturer and ended with the paint-matched final product we saw at SEMA. The 3-inch bulge allows for a bigger tire with a smaller lift—a trend many are gravitating toward for the cool looks and handling capabilities the setup provides. In addition to the removal of the stock parts and installation of the new glass, we also followed along with the manufacturing process to give you some insight into how it all comes together. We spent a few days out at LGE-CTS to cover the whole process of turning this bone-stock Super Duty into yet another one of its showstoppers. If you're looking for fiberglass fenders or bedsides—or anything else custom for your truck—check out the LGE-CTS website or stop by the San Dimas, California, showroom.
When we last left LGE-CTS and its project '17 F-250 Super Duty, it was sitting pretty with the Icon 2.5-inch coilovers, reservoir shocks front and rear, adjustable track bar, and dual front stabilizers. Our next stop was the manufacturing facility to watch the fiberglass fender and bedside production process.
Our fiberglass production process started with checking the custom-created fender molds to see if the individual pieces fit correctly. Then a layer of wax-based releasing compound is coated on the inside of the mold so the dried fender can be released from the mold easily.
Once the mold has been coated internally, the first layer of fiberglass goes down. It is still dry at this moment and needs to be loosely cut into shape, leaving a large overhang for adjustments. The fiberglass is cut from huge rolls on the wall. Smaller pieces are cut to fit into crevices or up the side of the mold.
Now that our tech has cut all his pieces to size, he can start the process of soaking the first layer with resin mixed with liquid hardener. It's poured from a small bucket and spread with a regular paintbrush.
Once the first layer is significantly soaked with resin, a second layer is applied in exactly the same way. Once the second layer is laid on dry, it is soaked in resin, too. After some time to cure, the layers have bonded and can then be trimmed to fit the mold better.
The fiberglass bedside had properly cured over the course of a few hours, and it was time to be removed from the mold. All the bolted-in corners and edges were removed, and, thanks to the wax-releasing compound, the bedside popped out easily.
When it is popped out, all the edges of the bedside are rough. Our tech took an angle grinder and knocked down all the rough edges. A final smoothing process will happen very soon.
The resin in fiberglass tends to leave the edges of a mold a little rougher and require more sanding than the flatter areas. As the tech sands through the top layer, exposing the fiberglass underneath, a thin layer of lightweight body filler is added to seal it. Once all four of the fenders and bedsides were sanded, some white sealer primer was sprayed, and the panels were ready for installation.
In order to remove the factory bedsides from our Super Duty, some serious work needed to be done. First, the bed was separated from its bed mounts and slid rearward to get to the forward edge of the bedside, which required disconnecting the wiring harness. Then the tailgate was removed.
Next to be stripped off were the taillights. Two screws hold them in, then the electrical connector had to be unplugged, and it slid right out.
The factory bedrail caps were the next to go.
Next to be removed were the plastics that fit behind the bumper under the taillights and along the bottom edge of the bed.
Now the real work could begin. The '17 Super Duty quarter-panel skin is made of aluminum, like the F-150, and is riveted to the inner fender structure. Those rivet heads were ground off to ready the panel for removal.
Even though the rivet heads are gone, there is still a little material holding on, so they had to be forcefully removed with a hammer and chisel. Then the process is continued elsewhere around the bedside.
The inner fender also had to be sliced through from end to end to free up the outer panel. The sawzall came in handy here.
Finally, the outer bedside was detached from the rest of the bedside to make way for the glass—but not before the front was torn down to match.
The front fenders were next. First on the removal list is the grille.
The headlights quickly followed.
The fender liners were next, along with the badges.
There were no rivets to remove, just bolts that held in the front fender. They were removed, and the fender came off. The rear bolts, as well as the bolts where the fender met the headlight frame, were difficult to reach—but we prevailed.
After a quick test-fit, some more of the inner fender was trimmed off.
The rear of the top edge also needed a bit of massaging.
Finally, the bedsides were ready to install for good until they come right back off for custom paint.
Holes were drilled and screws were installed around the perimeter of the glass.
Mounting points are also located behind the tailgate. Two bolts replaced all those rivets.
The front fenders went on in a similar fashion: set in place and then drilled for the factory bolts.
With the fenders and bedsides on solid and the body lines all matched up, the final finish work was performed before the panels were removed for custom paint.
A few days later, the truck was out of the paint booth and ready to be put back together, with a plethora of custom parts, of course.
We really wanted to show the bulge of the Baja Forged fenders and bedsides. This makes 37-inch tires possible with only the 3-inch Icon lift—and looks tough!
With the addition of an LGE-CTS bumper, side steps, spare tire carrier, and host of other tricks—not to mention the SOTA wheels and Nitto tires—the '17 not-so-Alumi-Duty was ready for a successful trip to SEMA.