Do the project ideas start flowing before one purchases a truck, during, or after? Whenever it may be that creativity strikes, one must go with them, wherever they may lead. For Chris Batts, it was shortly after he bought this 2015 Ford F-250.
We first learned of the truck by way of Instagram. There, Chris goes by project_nautical, which is also the name of his Super Duty. He keeps an ongoing log of his life and projects in the works there, and after learning that he lived relatively nearby in Long Beach, California, it was only a matter of time before we met him.
So we arranged the time to meet him. But where? That was an entirely different question. After some hemming and hawing over the right spots that would lend a good natural feel, we found a spot far up the I-15 – the Mormon Rocks Interpretive Trail in Phelan, California.
Asked how he got into diesels, Chris said, “When I was younger, I was all about the 7.3-liter Power Strokes. I liked the looks of the trucks, and the sounds of those V8s.”
Through his connections with OCT Marketing in Brea, California, Chris found his entryway into diesel life. He wanted a truck that he could be proud of, and perhaps even prepare for a SEMA Show.
“It was my good buddy, Tim Grachen, founder of OCT,” said Chris. “He was the one that opened the doors for me. He’s been around for a while, and I got to know him in 2016.”
With the way paved and door open, Chris traded in a 2010 Toyota Tundra for the 2015 Ford F-250, and quickly picked up on the differences between gas and diesel. “There was a little bit of a learning curve,” he admitted. “Learning to stay off the throttle was one aspect that I had to master. I would get better mileage that way. Also, I had to get used to the power difference, since there’s a lot more torque in diesel than in gas.”
With barely three miles on the odometer, Chris drove the truck off of the lot. It was to be the start of an adventure.
The Build Begins
Starting in 2016, Chris was working constantly to get his truck ready for SEMA. “I wanted a daily driver truck that was also sophisticated,” he explained. “It had to be an eye-catcher, but not over-the-top. It would be usable – I could go off-road, I could tow with it, and still use it like a true truck.”
Chris eventually got his wish, crafting the F-250 into a truck that could balance the two purposes he wanted. “I decided I could push my dreams a little further in 2017,” he said. “The truck was raised up another four inches, up from the eight inches I had on it before. I got forged wheels from Centerline. There were some odds and ends, some engine work, and in the end, the truck was more fun to drive.”
I wanted a daily driver truck that was also sophisticated. It had to be an eye-catcher, but not over-the-top. It would be usable – I could go off-road, I could tow with it, and still use it like a true truck. – Chris Batts
Some of the first modifcations given to the Super Duty were an eight-inch BDS Suspension lift kit, an RK Sport hood, TIS wheels, and Mark Ma tires. Fusion bumpers found their way onto the truck, giving it an aggressive yet refined appearance. “That was my ‘show’ look for 2016,” commented Chris.
The Truck Today
Now that it’s reached its final form (for the time being), the Super Duty is a piece to be reflected on and ponder the whole of it. “I kind of like the interior the most,” said Chris. “It’s all very nice Roadwire leather, and it’s all incredibly comfortable. I can sit in it and go cross-country, no problem.”
Highlights of the Build
- Grille: RBP custom RX-2
- Bumpers: Fusion bumpers
- Lighting: VisionX
- Roof rack: SBC
- Graphics: Designed by Strictly Custom Designs, printed and installed by Daley Visual
- Misc.: HornBlasters Shocker XL train horn
- Engine mods: SCT X4 programmer with Voodoo Diesel custom tunes; DieselSite Wicked Wheel 2 turbo compressor wheel; S&B cold air intake
- Suspension: 8-inch BDS four-link lift kit stretched to 12 inches with custom coilover conversion; Fox reservoir shocks and rear track bars made and installed by Evil Manufacturing; BDS dual steering stabilizers
- Wheels: 24-inch Centerline forged wheels
- Tires: 40-inch RBP Repulsor M/Ts
- Fueling: Transfer Flow 50-gallon tank
- Interior: Factory, except for Retro Customz iPad dash kit; Roadwire leather seats; Husky Liners floor liners; and sPOD controller for roof rack lights
Asked what he would re-do if he had the opportunity, Chris’ mind turned to the rearend. “I would definitely four-link it, just to try something different,” he said. “All of the trucks I’ve had before have had leaf springs in the back. But I see a lot of trucks out there running four-link rearends, and I’d like to see how that feels to drive. If I don’t like it, I could always go back to leaf springs.”
Regarding the engine and drivetrain, Chris would like to do some work there, too. “I’d like to do a bigger turbo,” he said. “I’m not quite sure yet, I have to decide on what route I want to go with. I’ve already done the DieselSite Wicked Wheel 2 upgrade, so I’ll probably go with bigger injectors.”
As for other engine upgrades, Chris wants to wait until due time before jumping in headfirst. “Those mods will come when they come,” he said. “If I ever want to make a ton more power, I’ll do different pistons and rods and stuff like that.”
Throwing Shade And Extending Thanks
Naturally, you can’t talk to a diesel guy and not get his opinion on the diesel wars between GM, Ford, and Mopar. Asked what he thought of the Power Strokes versus the competition, Chris stuck to his guns. “If you take care of a Power Stroke, it will take care of you,” he said. “Same thing goes for Duramax and Cummins. Do the oil changes, do the coolant checks, add the fuel additives, make sure there are no leaks, and you won’t have problems.”
Of course, every truck and every build has problems, but Chris is very grateful that his were minimal, thanks to his supporters. “I would like to thank Centerline Wheels, because they came through big in 2017,” he said. “Tim at OCT Marketing was another big help. Without him, I couldn’t and wouldn’t be doing any of this.”
All in all, Chris has shown the world what can be done with the Super Duty. Striking a balance between good looks and purpose-driven goals is a high-wire act, and Chris pulled it off. Check out more from him on Instagram, and let us know what you think of his truck in the comments below.