Lots of automotive business owners have realized that building a shop truck is a smart move. Whenever they head to a public event, they get to drive a distinctive looking truck that they are proud of. Having a shop truck is also good for their customers because they get a firsthand look at the talents of the staff. And, who knows? There might even be a tax break in there somewhere since it's technically business advertising. Of course, every shop owner is also familiar with the downside. Customers' vehicles always come first (since they pay the bills), so finding time to work on the company vehicle is often a problem. Perhaps the biggest challenge when you're an industry pro is ensuring your completed truck is a cut above the rest. After all, it reflects on your business, and you don't want to make a bad impression.
We don't know which of those elements were most important to Frank Carralero, co-owner of Red's Hydraulics in Miami, Florida, but we do know that Frank's custom truck does double duty, hauling the Red's Hydraulics fifth-wheel trailer during the week and collecting trophies on the weekend. Frank has been an automotive enthusiast for 30 of his 40 years on Earth. He and his business partner, Adolfo Corripio, have been crafting custom suspensions using either hydraulics or air spring systems for the last two decades. Recently, Frank has expanded his involvement in the sport with Diesel Wheels, recognizing the need for large diameter rims for custom trucks, and starting a business to address that need.
Don't let the good looks fool you. This '01 Ford F-350, with its '05 front clip and custom
Frank and Adolfo bought this '01 F-350 brand-new, and it filled the role as work truck in the shop for several years. When it came time for a major upgrade, suspension changes naturally had to include a radically lowered profile. The transformation began up front, and since loweredI-beams create too much camber change, the Ford front end was removed and replaced with components from a GM motor home chassis.
New control arms were added, along with 2-inch dropped Bell Tech spindles and specially modified wheel hubs. In the rear, a triangulated four-link suspension with heim joints and custom bushings was fabricated to accommodate the heavy loads that were still part of the custom truck's future. The chassis was also notched, and supports were built to reinforce the functional fifth-wheel hitch.
The Red's team added heavy-duty Slam Specialties RE8 air springs up front and RE12 air springs in the rear for altitude control, along with Rancho RS9000 shocks at all four corners. Four Air Zenith compressors fill the pair of reserve tanks using a Red's manifold and 1/2-inch lines. As a by-product of the truck's in-the-weeds stance, the mounts for the 7.3L Power Stroke engine and the four-speed automatic transmission were modified for clearance when the truck is on the ground. The Ford has a 110-gallon fuel cell built in for uninterrupted long-haul traveling, a critical addition when you realize this truck tows show vehicles from Miami to as far away as SEMA in Las Vegas.