We recently upgraded from a ½ ton truck to a 2004 Chevrolet 2500HD 4x4 with the Duramax diesel motor coupled with the Allision transmission. We were looking for something that could tow a toy hauler loaded with toys to the dunes without a struggle. The Duramax/Allison combo with a rated 310hp and 590 foot pounds of torque far exceeded our needs. In stock form it did the job at towing but, in our opinion, was not the greatest in an off-road environment. It gave a stiff ride with its heavy duty suspension and the tires were near pizza cutters for this size truck. This truck is no pavement queen and we needed it to not only look good but, more importantly, work well in any environment.
We started with a lift and better suspension. This is key to a good foundation for a capable off-road truck. After many hours of research we chose California Super Trucks (CST) for the lift and Fox Racing Shox to handle the shocks.
CST has been in the off-road industry since 1996 and has a lift kit for just about any truck made. They build some of the wildest off-road trucks out there. CST’s one piece sub-frame and heavy duty replacement upper control arm is the main reason we chose to use their kit. Using this design and dropping the factory suspension components down a true 6”’s offers unparalleled strength and durability while keeping steering components and front CV angles within factory specifications. Some of the other features of the CST lift kit include supported upper control arm drop mounts, steering drop down with heim jointed support links, and for our application with 4 wheel drive the differential is dropped down a full 6”. We also chose the dual shock hoop set-up for the front end and in the rear used taller progressive stacked leaf springs rather than lift blocks. The leaf springs we are using are for a ½ ton truck due to the limited quantity of the heavier duty springs at the time of installation. In our opinion this turned out to be a good thing as the ride on the road is much better than if we had heavier springs. For towing purposes we installed a set of Firestone/Ride Rite air bags to keep the truck level when connected to heavy loads. This kit has a compressor mounted under the hood to air the bags up at anytime.
For shocks we wanted something that would work well both on-road and off-road. We chose Fox Racing Shox. Fox Shox has been around since 1974 when Bob Fox first used a prototype air shock on a Maico dirtbike. In the late 1970’s Fox Racing Shox’s were used on off-road vehicles and have since won many Baja races. Fox continues to grow by expanding to most off-road applications including mountain bikes, dirtbikes, ATV’s, off-road race cars, as well as sand rails. Fox races what they sell and can generally be found pounding through the local deserts in a constant effort to make a better shock.
For our application we needed 4 shocks for the front and 2 in the rear. Each shock is the 2.0 non-coil-over models. The fronts are 8” units with remote reservoirs and the rears are 12” units. Fox Racing Shox feature a smooth bore seamless alloy steel body, a high-flow/large bore damping piston with high quality valve shims, is nitrogen gas pressurized, has Teflon lined steel spherical bearings, billet aluminum end caps, and are easily rebuildable by the customer. We called Empire Motorsports for a set of their beefy aluminum reservoir clamps. These are one of the larger clamps available and only 1 is needed for each reservoir.
Other items to make this project come to life include the KMC XD325 wheels. These are 17” in diameter and 9.5” wide. They feature a large reinforcement ring on the outside of the wheel with a smaller one on the inside. For tires we used a set of 35x12.5x17 Pro Comp A/T’s. Since our truck would be used primarily on the road and in the sand we chose the all terrain tire. They are not overly noisy on the road and work extremely well in the sand. This wheel and tire combination looks great as well as providing a strong footprint on the ground.
Installation of these components was preformed at Off-Road Warehouse in Escondido, CA. Jessie ‘the man’ Martinez did most of the front end work.. Jessie made quite a few comments on how well the CST kit was built. Everything fit together perfectly and all nuts and bolts were in marked bags. Jessie was happy to see how easy this kit went on.
Installation took a day. Huge thanks to the Off-Road Warehouse gang, they did a fantastic job!
To be able to get into this tall truck we contacted N-Fab for a set of their step bars. The N-Fab bars a different from others in that they mount to the body rather than to the frame. While it may seem like they wouldn’t be very sturdy being mounted this way, we found them to be extremely sturdy. They feature a hoop at each door and even with 2 people standing on them at the same time they hardly flexed at all. We also liked the N-Fab steps because they are different than most people use and they do a good job at hiding the frame of the truck. If you have a long bed truck, N-fab makes steps with a third hoop for easy access to the bed of the truck. N-fab also sent us one of their light bars that attaches to the stock bumper. We had tons of problems with this light rack. The light tabs weren’t welded very well and in the end with 3 heavy lights mounted to it the whole bumper would ‘jiggle’. It ended up rattling bumper mounting bolts loose and just couldn’t handle the lights we wanted to use.
We ended up contacting Dorian at Buck Stop for a bumper. He was in the process of designing a new bumper called the “Baja Edition”. Dorian started his business after several of his friends hit deer and ruined the front ends of their trucks. He saw a need for a heavy duty bumper and decided to make them for all trucks. The main section of the bumper made from ¼” thick steel, the upper tube is a huge 3” in diameter, and it’s all mig welded together. When we got our front bumper from Dorian our jaw hit the floor! The craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into designing and building this bumper is simply amazing! It was shipped on a pallet with no coating. We took it to Powder1 in El Cajon and they we able to almost exactly match the color of the powdercoating to the color of our truck.
This bumper is a full replacement/bolt-on bumper. It has plenty of room inside the bumper to mount a winch with a convenient door on the top of the bumper to access the winch. It also has 2 6” holes in the front to mount fog lights.
Speaking of lights, we opted to get 3 Hella 4000 HID’s. These lights are by far the best HID’s in the industry and have one of the highest light outputs available. We decided to slightly modify these lights. First we had the front orange rings that hold the light into the housing powdercoated black to better blend in with our truck. We also modified the adjustment bolts on the bottom of the light housing so they can’t be as easily removed. We were concerned with these lights being stolen. The adjustment bolts could be fully removed and the light itself could be taken. We used longer bolts and drilled a small hole in them then inserted a cotter pin through the hole. This way they can still be loosened for adjustment but not fully removed. We also put a small tact weld on the nut and bolt that secures these massive lights to the Buck Stop bumper. Off-roading at night with just stock headlights is not near enough to see very well. With the Hella HID’s there is more than enough light to safely see any up-coming obstacles. We also added 5 standard Hella 500 series light in the bumper openings. We are very happy with these lights!
To get this truck looking better we had Steve Zubaite of Fleet Painting in Lakeside, CA paint a few items to match our trucks color. We had him paint the side view mirrors (housings), door handles and tailgate handle. Painting these items drastically changed the way our truck looks! It now looks much cleaner and has a uniform look to it. Steve did a fantastic job at matching the paint. Thanks Steve!
Another improvement in the front end was the addition of Clear-Guard. We added the Clear-Guard to the hood, front fenders, front grill housing as well as special blue tinted material to the headlights and the extra Hella lights. Clear-Guard helps protect the paint and light lenses from being chipped by flying debris on the freeway. The blue tint on the lights add a nice, subtle look to our ride as well.
Awesome Products in Riverside sent one of their very trick aluminum grills. These are billet machined (yes ‘billet’ is a machining term) out of high grade aluminum and highly polished for a great look. The Awesome Products grill really set this front end off with a unique look. For the bowtie in the center of the grill we wanted something different than the standard aluminum bowtie. We had Walter Rapp (www.roostfest.com) order us a new bowtie and custom paint an American Flag into it. He did a superb job! The attention to detail is amazing. He made it look like it’s blowing in the wind rather than just a flat looking flag. The grill and bowtie look great on the truck; unfortunately, the grill restricts to much air flow and causes the motor to get warmer than usual when towing heavy loads. We had to remove the grill after this article.
We also added a class 5 Putnam receiver hitch rated at 15,000 pounds. We had read a few horror stories about the stock receiver and decided to be extra safe when towing heavy loads. Putman also sent a set of their weight distribution bars (Trunnion style) along with a drop hitch and a heavy duty ball. For lighter loads Ultra Hitch out of Idaho sent one of their polished aluminum hitches. The height of this hitch is very easy to adjust you simply pull a pin, raising or lowering the position of the ball and reinserting the pin. This hitch is rated at 10,000 pounds and its appearance is a work of art!
In the bed we had Line-X of El Cajon spray in a bed liner. Line-X liners and tough! They sand down the inside of the bed and the bed rails to make the coating stick better. Once it’s finished it’s hardened and cured in about an hour and is ready for use. It has saved our bed numerous times. We highly recommend Line-X!
In the performance department we added a TTS Powersystems ‘tow/tune’ program to add more power. Autometer gauges keep all the important temperatures in check while a Mag-Hytec transmission pan and rear differential cover add more fluid capacity to keep them cooler. A Nicktane secondary fuel filter was added for extra fuel filtering as well as a 45 gallon Transfer Flow mid-ship replacement gas tank. Optima sent two of their powerful yellow top batteries for long lasting power.
Dennis from DuraFlap sent a set of his mud flaps. At first we were not crazy about the look of mud flaps but found them to be necessary since our front tires stuck out beyond the fenders. Water, mud, and sand would spray the side of the truck all the way back to the bed. The DuraFlap mud flaps work great at saving our paint and ended up looking great too! They are CNC cut, have polished stainless weights and are easy to install!
So how does it perform off-road? One word, AMAZING! We noticed a night and day difference in how the lift kit and suspension worked. It is so much smoother through the rough stuff that we are still in awe. The stock suspension was way to stiff for our liking and this combo made a world of difference. The wheels and the wider tries offer plenty of traction in the sand, worlds different than the stock tires! Overall we couldn’t be happier with our truck. If you’d like a closer look at this project keep an eye out for it at the dunes. You can’t miss the huge Buck Stop bumper!
1994 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD 6.5L Turbo Diesel "UNLEASHED"
6.5 Litre Turbo Diesel
SS Diesel Supply Performance Air Intake
SS Diesel Supply Instant Heat Glow Plugs
Aluminum Racing Style Gas Door
Custom Graphics Package
Limo Tinted Windows
Clear Corner Lights
Clear Turn Signal Lights
Billet Grill Emblem
Aluminum Diamond Tread Tool Box
Rhino Liner spray in Bed Liner
AVS Wrap Around Bugshield
2" Steel Lift Blocks in Rear
GM White Torsion Bar Keys in Front 2-1/2" lift
Sony CD Head Unit
8" In Dash TFT LCD Screen
10" Flip Down TFT LCD Screen
Multi-Media DVD Player
10 DIsc MP3 Changer
Sony 1200 Watt Amplifier
2 Farad Capacitor
Sony Dash Speakers
Sony Rear Speakers
2 JL Audio 8W3v2-D4 Subwooofers
Custom Built Under Seat Sub Enlosure/Amp Rack
Custom Horn/Siren Combo
500 Watt AC Inverter
12 Volt Stainless Steel 8 can Refrigerator
Remote Keyless Entry/Alarm System
Long story short.This truck has been 27 years in the making.I have always wanted a lifted truck since my dad drove one home from the car lot he worked at it was a 76-77 chevy with big tires and probably 6-8" of lift.i had a few trucks since i turned 16 and never thought about lifting them, And then I had a new 98 Z71 but it was just not enough truck for what i do and i was going to lift it but didnt and sold it.Then i had 03 2wd dually crew cab 8.1/allison and had plans to lift that truck but it was 2wd and got horrible highway mileage and sold that truck.So i bought this truck in november of 04 and knew it was the one.A buddy of mine put a 6" fabtech on his 04 duramax himself over a few day period and all of a sudden i was like, i can do this. So i researched,looked at pics of other trucks,and thought long and hard about what i wanted to do and asked lots of questions right here on this forum from other guys that had lifted trucks,thanks guys, Here is the results :ro)
Engine: K&N,Air box mod,Finger stick,Egr plate,amsoil HD 15/40
Fuel & Tuning:stock
Pinnacle power 4" exhaust 5" SS tip, Kitty and muffler delete option added
4x4,allison,dual cv front driveshaft,amsoil severe gear 75/90
Weight reduction & transfer:
Suspension, wheels & tires:
Cognito 12" lift kit,Competion leaf spring 10" springs,1" block,Pro comp ES 3000's,Kmc XD series 20x10 Rockstar's in black, 4.56 Yukon gears, 38/15.50/20 Mickey thompson baja MTZ's
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