Once we started on the path of Fab Fours and this white Cummins, we had to see how much further we could go. We’re back with Ben Thaler and his all-white 2017 Ram 2500HD to see what else we can do to beef up its looks and attitude. The answer – the Open Fender System, new wheels, and massive 40×15.5R24 Kymera tires!
The appeal for the Open Fender System is twofold – on the one hand, it has all of the aesthetic and machismo one could ask for in a fender kit. Taking the rounded wheel wells of the Ram 2500 and making them bigger and more open, along with a slick, angular fender flare, makes for a unique appearance that will catch eyeballs. But we can’t forget the biggest reason to do this mod – as Fab Fours so openly proclaims, this kit is all about #40snolift. That’s right, it will allow the owner to fit gigantic 40-inch tires and have zero rubbing, and without having to fork out for a big lift kit.
Ben’s truck already had a lift kit installed – six inches – but we were sure that with such a mild lift, the 40-inch Kymera tires that Fab Fours provided would still look striking and badass. Not to mention, the customizable wheels, which can be fitted with awesome wheel rings that stand out. So let’s dive in and see how this kit came together.
Something that we noticed before we ever signed on to receive the OFS (PN TF2900) and fender flares (PN TF2910) was how well they would tie in with the Grumper and ViCowl already installed. The edges of the bumper would naturally follow the lines of the OFS, and the fender flares would reinforce the overall appearance.
The kit comes made of 11-gauge U.S. steel, and is given a two-stage black powder coat to protect it against the elements. Ben opted to have these pieces redone in white to match the rest of the truck (don’t worry; you’ll get to see the beautiful results of this later on!). Also included is a two-inch leveling kit from Skyjacker which will give the truck a level stance and counteract the tradeoff in weight from removing body sheet metal. To give it the completed look, we got the optional fender flare we mentioned previously, and which we’re also required to have by law out here in California.
On the front, Fab Fours provides inner fenders that replace the factory units, also made of strong steel with a black powder coat. These protect the upper shock mounts, spring perches, wiring, and the engine’s flanks from the elements. The rear does not require custom inner fenders, as the stock ones will fit back in properly after the OFS is installed.
Moving onto the wheels and tires, they constitute a potent combination that make the truck stand out. The wheels (PN 1710-24281B) are a design made by Fab Fours consisting of cast aluminum, with a -51 offset and 4.5 inches of backspacing. They’re 24×12 in dimension, and come painted gloss black, and best of all, they’re designed to accept the intriguing array of wheel rings available – 12 designs in all. Ben chose the badass “Saw Blade” design (PN SL2407-1), evoking the look of a saw blade’s silhouette.
Last but not least, the huge Kymera tires (PN 40-155024FABRT) are a mud-terrain design that can bounce between driving to pick up the kids and bombing through the backwoods with ease. The aggressive tread pattern is helped by a directional center tread, which makes it smoother on asphalt. And being F-rated, they’re ready to deal with towing the toys around, too.
Now that we’ve gone over these products and what makes them radical, let’s get into how they all went on the truck.
Part of our initial planning for this was working with our friends at 4 Wheel Parts Temecula in Temecula, California. The team there has the distinction of not only being a part of the great 4WP brand, but also servicing some of the most exacting and precise customers in all of Southern California.
“We pride ourselves on the attention to detail and service we provide for our customers,” said store manager Chris Osuna. “We treat our customers’ vehicles as if they were our own. We make sure all of the gaps are right, all of the fitment is correct. And if a customer finds an issue, we will take it back and find the right solution to make them happy. We take pride in our work.”
With such a strong statement, we were sure the truck, kit, and everything else were in good hands. This was proven as we got to know our technician, Eric. He was new to assembling one of these Open Fender System kits, but his confidence and sure handiwork bore true as things got underway.
Eric started by laying out all of the parts for the OFS and making sure everything was there. Once finished, he started on the front driver’s side fender, removing the stock fender flare’s hardware and essentially peeling it off of the fender. Then he undid the trim fasteners holding in the inner fender. Leftover dirt and dust from off-roading was cleaned off with a rag and cleaner, and now it was time to paste on some stickers.
But these were no ordinary stickers. Arrayed across a wide sheet of paper, these stickers were for making precise cuts into the sheet metal, which was a fundamental aspect of the Open Fender System. The secret to fitting those big tires without a lift was that a lot of metal had to go, and to make sure it all went smoothly, the stickers were essential.
Eric applied the stickers in the proper places, eventually placing them across the fender’s exterior, interior, and even on a body mount. A couple of them took some effort to get lined up properly, but thankfully, the stickers’ adhesive was resilient and didn’t wear off after repeated attempts. In some cases, he used a permanent marker to draw lines down or across to where the actual cut needed to keep going.
Next, Eric went to town on the fender. Using a body saw, he made a slow and careful arc over the entirety of the metal. Good things take time, and this was definitely something he had to get right on the first pass, and he did. After the full cut was made, he used a grinder wheel to deburr the metal; he did this on practically cuts made on the 2500.
Afterwards, Eric drilled where marked on the rocker channel. A large chunk of this would have to go, and in its place would go a bracket, expanding foam, and foam inserts (made from the packing foam from the shipped box) to prevent debris and moisture from getting inside. He also made small drill holes where the body saw would have to make a sharp turn, and larger drill holes for mounting the bracket.
Again, taking the time to do this right was key to getting the perfect result; and sure enough, chunk by metal chunk, the rocker channel was transformed into a cavernous network of holes. Eric painted a brush of provided SEM Rust Trap along the exposed metal (which would stop rust from forming), pressed a piece of packing foam from the cardboard shipping box onto it to form stencils, and then reapplied some more of the Rust Trap. This was also the point where we cut off a corner of the nearest body mount and hit it with some black spray paint.
Inside the cab, we peeled back the carpet and sound insulation to reveal the metal floorboard. Along the outside edge, we found half-inch-diameter drill holes we’d made in the previous step. Fab Fours had a metal bracket piece that installed there, so we put it in. It had a tab that would meet up with the bracketry outside in the fender well.
Back on the outside, Eric cut up the foam and placed the pieces inside while using some adhesive to bond them to the metal. He then bolted on the bracket pieces and placed duct tape strategically around the gaps between the bracket and the rocker channel sections.
It was at this point that we got to see the other provided chemical compound, the expanding foam, go to work. Eric fed a good amount in gaps, and let the foam do its thing. Before long, it had filled up and started to seep a bit from the holes; after a bit of time passed, Eric removed the tape, and the foam had solidly formed where it needed to prevent debris and water from coming through.
On the upper side of the fender, Eric screwed in a bracket to support the Fab Fours inner fender, and then coated the cutout with Rust Trap. He mocked up the FF fender to the Ram fender to mark the holes for drilling, and then drilled them all. Before putting on the FF fender, he used the abundant spool of weather stripping rubber to outline the edge of the FF fender, and cut it to its exact needed length.
With the FF fender and fender flare installed, all that was left for the front was Fab Fours’ steel inner fender. Powder coated black and made from 11-gauge U.S. steel, this piece would protect everything above the upper spring perch from getting hit with water or debris. It went in using a couple of self-tapping screws, as well as a nut, bolt, and washers. With this done, the front of the truck was complete, and we now turned our attention to the rear.
After removing the stock fender flare and inner fender, Eric taped on the appropriate cutting guide stickers and made the cuts. From there, it was basically a repeat of the front – applying the weather stripping to the FF fender, mocking it up to mark the drill holes, drilling the holes, and then mounting FF fender and fender flare. Eric found a way to retain the stock inner fender, and reinstalled it.
Wrapped Up And Ready To Roll
The last step on this project was installing the wheels and tires, which was comparatively easy versus the fender mods. The guys simply put the truck on jack stands, unbolted the old wheels, reused the tire pressure sensors, mounted and balanced the tires, and used some new lug nuts to screw on the wheels. A technician then torqued down all 32 bolts, and the truck was complete!
Right away, the look of the truck was twice as astounding. The Grumper and ViCowl grabbed the eyes first, but there was more to it now, thanks to the Open Fender System, wheels, wheel rings, and Kymera tires. Thinking of how this truck looked a few months back before we had started the Fab Fours-ification, it was a humongous difference, and one that turned out for the better.
The owner, Ben Thaler, had a strong reaction as well. “I’m stoked to see how it looks now!” he said. “People were doing double takes before. Now they’re going to be snapping their necks to get another look as I drive by. My truck looks awesome!”
Without a doubt, when a vehicle needs to make a statement, it needs to be done with Fab Fours. We would like to thank 4 Wheel Parts Temecula for their involvement with this project, and going the extra mile to give the Ram 2500 the best service possible. We invite you to check out more from 4 Wheel Parts and Fab Fours by visiting the 4WP Facebook page and Fab Fours website and Facebook page.