Build Updates: Project Diesel Chase

Diesel Chase 1

For build updates, newest to oldest, scroll down.

The newest project vehicle selected for the Diesel Army is a 2008 Dodge Ram 2500 equipped with the 68RFE six-speed automatic transmission, is four-wheel drive, and powered by a 6.7-liter Cummins turbo-diesel. The truck is outfitted with a Mega Cab with a standard length bed, and was built to the SLT trim level.

This truck is primarily used for two purposes: the first of which is exploring and enjoying the deserts and mountains of Southern and Central California; the second, as a tow vehicle used to tow boats and a car hauler to the Colorado River and local deserts on the weekends.

Because desert racing is so accessible to those in the Southwest region, we have several guys in-house that participate in these events on a regular basis. Any off-road team understands the value of a solid chase vehicle to locate a downed vehicle, repair it on the fly, or recover it if necessary. While not needed, they can really make those recreational weekends safer and more fun by providing support to the vehicles and riders should they need some help. With that in mind, we have dubbed our Dodge truck Project: Diesel Chase.

6/30/2016 – Rigid Bumper Lights

The Throttle Down Kustoms bumper we installed had cut outs specifically made for Rigid Industries LED lights.

We ordered our bumpers with mounts on the front and rear bumpers. For the front, we opted for the D2 Driving lights (PN 50231), and we will be utilizing the standard Rigid mount. For the rear, we opted for the D2 Diffused Flush Mount (PN 51251).

The lights have a quick-connector about 12 inches away from the light itself. From there, the appropriate wires and hardware are included and assembled to connect to the battery, relay, inline fuse, and a rocker switch to mount in your preferred location.

With the precut holes made for our lights, we would have no problem getting them installed.

The last step was to tighten the rear flush mounted lights down.

With the front lights installed we could really see the difference driving down the dark back roads.

The rear difused lights projected just enough light so we could see while hooking up a trailer or recovery strap at night.

6/9/2016 – Edge CTS2 Tuner

Built into the CTS2 is the ability to monitor several parameters. These allow the driver to check on vitals for the engine, transmission, fuel system, and beyond. There is even an available screen that measures the angle of your vehicle for off-roading purposes; a quick calibration session needs to be dialed in first.

Installation was quick and easy, all we needed to do was plug the tuner into the OBDII port and we were off and running.

Once the new Edge system downloaded what it needed from the factory computer, we were able to input a few items about our truck including the size of our larger off-road tires, which enabled the programmer to display a corrected speed compared to the factory speedometer.

We can tell you firsthand that if you want to maintain traction, don’t slam your foot down at the light with the extreme tune installed. The amount of torque produced at the higher settings would make you think you did a lot more to your engine than just connect a few plugs – the power is seriously impressive.

4/26/2016 – Bumpers With Throttle Down Kustoms

The factory bumper was just not going to cut it anymore.

Our new TDK bumper defiantly has the strength to prevent the majority of image and intrusion to these sensitive areas. You will also notice that there is less bumper area around the sides and near the lower portions of the front tires, which has advantages.

After tightening the nuts and bolts down firmly and reattaching the intercooler, our front bumper installation was complete. With the hood back down we admired the fresh look for the first time. You’ll notice that the fender liners protrude down past the lines of the bumper, and we opted to trim these so they don’t show from the front.

The overall design has really given the truck an aggressive stance from both ends and the sides, and we really like the way you can see more of the front tire tread when facing the truck head-on.We certainly feel more comfortable when off-roading knowing the protection and increased utility that our bumpers now offer.

12/3/2015 – Wilco Offroad Chase Rack

Our 2008 Dodge Ram 2500 4×4 waiting to get its new rack.

Crossbars were installed with the upper supports, and will be wrapped up towards the end of the install. The rack was starting to take shape with the addition of the large overhead cab supports.

Before we knew it the ADV rack was starting to take shape. It would give us plenty of room for storage allowing us to keep the bed of our truck free.

The rack has plenty of clearance from the cab, only thing we may need to avoid now are the drive-thru’s.

12/12/2014 – Toyo Open County Tire Review

“The Open Country R/T’s center section leans more towards an all terrain design for a quieter ride but also includes mud claw biting blocks. The outer portion of the tread area on the Open Country R/T really reflects more of an M/T influence, as it is more aggressive than the Open Country A/T II,” said Jay Jones of Toyo Tires

Notice the considerable size difference going from 33s (right) to the 35-inch Toyos (left).

Right away we noticed that the Open Country R/Ts have gobs of forward bite in each of the varying surfaces. With their unique tread pattern, the truck was very easy to maneuver across the uneven terrain.

With the tires inflated to 35 psi, we decided to put the truck in four-wheel drive and head down into the wash – a sand-filled four-mile stretch of terrain that closely resembles the sand washes found in Glamis and Ocotillo Wells. Normally, when we venture into the wash, we air down the tires, even with four-wheel drive. This time however, in our thirst for a good time, we decided to head down as-is to see how long we could make it. Much to our surprise, traction was not an issue at all, even at low speeds.


The Big Plan

While our Dodge has performed better than expected throughout its life, we know that there are plenty of improvements that can be made to enhance its ability to perform off-road, as a chase vehicle, and as a tow vehicle.

Almost everyone loves the thought of increasing the horsepower and torque of their vehicle, but we have to take a few things into account. Considering the towing duties that our vehicle has planned, reliability and longevity is paramount to our aftermarket plans. Accordingly, this build is going to remain fairly mild with regards to performance enhancements. That being said, we have several other avenues for improvement.

toyoimg_1828rtIn terms of performance, we would like to see what we can achieve electronically with the help of a tuner that can help to remove the “factory fluff.” Additionally, some intake and exhaust options will most certainly be an area of interest to provide more power, and a more efficient, cooler running engine for those heavy tows. We also would like to add the ability to monitor the health and operating temperatures of the engine more carefully with a few added gauges.

One of the most important things you can do for a diesel is to provide an extremely clean and consistent delivery of fuel. There are many products on the market out there, so we will dive into these and see which option will perform best for our application.

Another area of interest for the vehicle falls into the realm of off-road. We would like to equip our truck with the appropriate suspension, tires, and wheels to handle the harsh desert environments, but without sacrificing the usability and functionality of a diesel truck needed for towing. Upgrading the tires is a very simple, yet highly effective way to improve the off-highway abilities of a vehicle. Additionally, we want to look at what aftermarket wheels would be best suited for this application, as well as a good way to add some style points. Another area to focus on here is the addition of one or two full-size spares as flat tires are inevitable when going off the beaten path, and when you need to get out and get back home, a stock spare simply won’t suffice.




Moving up, we would like to outfit the truck with some off-road capable suspension products that will provide increased ground clearance, the ability to run a much larger tire, and some improved handling characteristics. Since we have to maintain the ability to tow, the rear suspension has to stay fairly firm with the ability to both tow and haul heavy loads. This can certainly be improved with the addition of load-leveling air bags in the rear, and a new pair of shocks should help to dampen the bumps. We have a little more freedom up front with regards to suspension design, however we need to remain somewhat mild here in order to maintain the highway drivability.

We know the Mega Cab has a lot of space, and when that space is occupied by a handful of passengers gear storage can become a little tricky. In an effort to improve this, we will add what’s known as a chase rack, which gives additional storage, places to fasten down items up out of the way, and even provide platform for auxiliary lighting and other accessories.

Anybody who has spent some time in the outdoors, be it desert or woodland, knowns how dark the nights can be. In an effort to maximize nighttime driving visibility, area lighting for repairs and recoveries, and the vehicle’s visibility to others, the truck will be outfitted with some serious lighting.

The final addition to Project Diesel Chase will be the tools that allow its driver and passenger to perform the repairs and recoveries that it set out do to. These items can include everything from recovery straps, winches, and appropriate bumpers to handle the rigors of removing stuck vehicles, to onboard air systems, jacks, shovels, common parts and appropriate tools to repair the vehicles being supported.

While we aren’t setting out to build a 100 percent dedicated desert chase truck, we believe our hybrid truck will prove to be surprisingly useful in everything from chase support, off-road fun and exploration, to a weekend tow and support vehicle. We are looking forward to building this vehicle and hope that it brings awareness and valuable information to our readers moving forward.

So drop in and check out what’s new with Project Diesel Chase!


About the author

Brent Davis

Brent was born and raised in Southern California. After earning a Bachelors Degree in business marketing from California State University San Marcos, and a project management certificate from the University of California at San Diego, he decided to turn a lifelong passion for automobiles and motorsports into a career. Brent has a specific passion for diesel-powered and all-terrain vehicles that have helped him haul and recover recreational toys over the years.
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