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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Table of Contents: (Note when you see multiple Post listings, those are changes, upgrades or fixes)
  1. Introduction – Explaining the Why
  2. Delivery of my Raptor (post # 5)
  3. RPG Stage 3 Install, getting the rust out (post #8 and #37)
  4. First Trials of Raptor – Snow, Mud, Soft Sand, Steep Rocky narrow Desert Trail (post #9)
  5. Bed Liner choices (post #16)
  6. Bed Cover and Bak-Flip Choices (post 24,245)
  7. Radar Detectors and Mirror Tap install (post 34)
  8. Stock vs. Upgraded Shocks, Test Run videos (post 40) "What is and what should never be"
  9. Modifying Stock fenders for 37” Tires (post 41, 43, 46)
  10. RPG Stage 4 Installation Fox 3.0 Front and Rear (post 54)
  11. Tires (post 58)
  12. Undercoating Wheel Wells (post 66)
  13. Mud-flaps (post 67)
  14. Invisible Bug Screen (post 70)
  15. RPG UCA (post 216)
  16. Tie Rod Installation. (post 158,160)
  17. Dash Z CCFL Halo HID Headlights (Post 155, 172, 178, 181, 185, 195, 196, 205, 555)
  18. Front and Rear Bumpers (post 346, 347, 476)
  19. National Springs upgrade (Post 224, 225)
  20. Bed Cage (Post 107, 116, 125)
  21. Cargo Management (Post 128, 238)
  22. Navigation - Includes Backseat removal tips (post 130, 132, 538)
  23. VHF Radio with permanent Antenna mount (post 139, 282)
  24. CAI and Tune (post 153)
  25. Tire Pressure Monitoring - Aftermarket Solution (Post 230, 231, 526)
  26. 37" Spare Tire under the Bed (post 256, 267, 274, 348)
  27. Exhaust Dump (Post 364)
  28. Recovery Gear (post 384, 408, 425, 433, 441)
  29. Tuffy under Rear Seat Storage (post 399, 404)
  30. Rethinking Everything (Posts 77, 78, 85, 93, 101, 104)
  31. Reviews of various Modifications (Posts 73, 143, 211, 228)
  32. Door Seals Upgrade (post 527)
  33. RPG Raceline Buimper (post 476)
  34. RPG Custom Rear Hitch (481)
  35. RPG Sliders (post 488)
  36. Wicked Performance Pedal kit (post 502)
  37. Racing Jack Belly Pan (post 514)
  38. Save the Beer - Cooler mod (post 515)
  39. Off Road Light Testing (post 567)
  40. Cargo Weight Manifest (post 570)
  41. Passenger Cage, Rear Seat Unlock Mod (Post 572)
  42. if nothing more is listed, that means my ability to edit this table of contents has been taken away...
So this is my first build, thought I would do things a little differently. Re: the Table of contents above: I plan on updating as the build proceeds. First 9 items are complete and most of the write up and pics were organized in word for cut and paste into this thread. I likely will post one a day to allow for comments, suggestions, etc. In this way the comments can be close to posts to resemble other builds that stretch out over time.

I want to thank Blackhawk for his motivation / encouragement and helping me to clean this up after the fact as it has grown to a large size, now it is more concise and easier to go thru.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Introduction

Hi, my real name is Gordon, most of my friends just call me G or Big G. As many of you might know I ordered my Raptor as soon as the new 2012 order books opened in late August, it was birthed on Feb 6, it sat in Michigan Salt for a month rusting, finally took delivery on March 13, 2012. So I had a lot of time on my hands to think about what I wanted to do with the truck, Mod wise.


There are a lot of great builds in this forum and some very talented folks, and I learn something from everyone’s, so thank you. What seemed to me to be missing often times was the WHY. Why did folks do what they did. How do they intend to use the Truck, so with that in mind here is a little background on me and how I plan to use it.
I have been an auto enthusiast since a teenager, tricking out a ’66 Chevy El Camino in the late seventies. In early 80’s I restored a rare 71 Monte Carlo SS-454 while worked for 5 years as Marketing Director for Auto Aftermarket company. Organized and staffed several elaborate Auto Trade show booths every year. One of the benefits of this job required me to borrow vehicles for pattern making. I got to drive Ferrari, Jags, Bentleys, RR, AMGs, BMWs, Audis, Porsches and one off’s from Europe not usually seen in this country. I sold the Monte Carlo for capital to start a business in ’86 in Office Automation Equipment. (still running the business 26 years later, interesting American Success story, but I digress.) Drove an Acura NSX for 10 years, then BMW 550i and currently have a 2010 MBZ AMG E63 – Best ever sports sedan ever made, so when it came time to get a more serious off-road vehicle, only the best would do.
Been doing desert off-road driving for 16 years, almost always with one to four of my kids in tow, camping is our thing although day trips are common, Have used 4WD Suburbans/Tahoes for 13+ years, a Suburu before that. I could never make it thru most of the passes in the Anza Borrego Desert. So ability to haul 3 or 4 kids and high ground clearance was a top priority. After watching Raptors Fly, I knew that was something I wanted to do as well.

But I also do a lot of Handyman work, managing several residential and commercial properties, so I needed a way to secure tools and also haul lumber, irrigation and landscape materials. I am an avid Skier and we often drive 1000 miles or more for winter ski vacations.
So versatility is important, Fun is primary, looking bad-ass, not hard to do out of the box, but like most of us, I want to make the truck a reflection of my inner me.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
RPG Stage 3 Install, getting the rust out

First person I called was Jarrett at RPG, I had already had a stage 3 kit on order and since they were close to me they offered to help me install the gear. The free installation was not the reason I chose to go with RPG, frankly after researching they stood above the rest in their design and fabrication quality. There is a ton of information already in this forum regarding these products so I am not going to repeat it here. I will say this though, the way their products are designed is with a staged approach to modification and improvement where all of the components are designed to work in harmony with each other. Frankly I don’t have the skill set to make a bunch of aftermarket stuff work perfectly together. I have had some bad experiences trying to improve earlier sport sedans with gear that just didn’t work out well. Frustrating since I was in that world in my role in the early Eighties. I had sway bars on one car that ripped the frame. Friends of mine have had similar experiences. For me to start making some rather drastic changes to an already impressive off road SVT engineered package, I was nervous. For me the choice was clear, I wanted to fly in my Raptor, but I didn’t want frame issues either. Jarrett and Corey were the first to convince me of a total working package concept, it gave me the confidence to move forward.

Surprise

When we got the truck up in the air we found a terrible case of rust and oxidation had started, worse case Corey had ever seen.





It looked worse that it was, Scotch pads and Rustoleum Rust converter and she was looking good. Since we had the entire rear suspension apart it was easy to do it the right way.
There is no substitute for experience, unbelievable to have the know-how and the right parts and tools. I cant’ thank RPG enough. It was actually my good fortune to have to wait 6+ months to take delivery, otherwise I might have been stuck with a different solution. I probably just pissed off 1/2 the folks reading this. Not my intention. I do not mean anything negative to the other Vendors, all the stuff out there is good and better than OEM. I studied them all, what impressed me the most about RPG was their sophistication of design, experience and willingness to work with a relative novice like me. I learned more from talking to them in an hour than 6 months of participating in the forums. (maybe because I can talk faster than I can type, lol)

The installation of the RPG Stage 3 is well documented on this forum and the net so I won’t go into to much detail. It was a hard day’s work for me since I am normally at a desk, but Corey, Noah and I got er done in about 5 hours including the Mid Perch adjustment, sanding and painting rusted surfaces.



Stock “Frame Bender” er, I mean SVT designed micro cellular Bump Stop, aka Jounce Bumper – it actually states in the Dealer Handbook “ “New Microcellular bump stops help the Raptor soak up rough terrain” Please don’t post any Frame rants, I just wanted to give a short perspective on this. Please visit Blue SVT thread if you wish to pipe in on this


Get er up:

Here is side by side stock leaf springs vs. the new Nationals



Frame Support – this thing is monstrously beefy, and fits like a glove.





Doing the Front Perch, notice plastic insert missing from one of the shocks (bottom of Spring). Ford refused to fix or provide part since I had worked on it myself. They claimed I may have lost it during the work. As you can see, we never remove the shock to change the perch adjustment.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
First Trials of Raptor – Snow, Mud, Soft Sand, Steep Rocky narrow Desert Trail

Now that frame is protected, time to have some fun.
Having been very active in Scouting for over 15 years as an adult leader, being prepared was a primary focus, especially since I most often go out by myself. I know its best to go in groups, but up to now I never really pushed my vehicle to its limits, although I did take the Suburban places it probably should not have gone.
So picked it up on Wed, did the RPG Stage 3 on Friday, Sunday was the biggest storm of the season and we baptized the Raptor with deep snow, rain, high speed desert driving, narrow rocky ascent into Sheep and Coyote canyons, busted the windshield when Ocatillo grabbed antennae and smacked windshield, crack appeared a few hours later.




Here is picture of my 3rd son Ian – that is an average sized Ocatillo to his left, they are a super strong cacti with long sharp thorns.





Crappy pieced together video showing the terrain, camera freaked out and kept stopping, I edited the pieces together for brevity.

Click link to play
http://s1266.photobucket.com/albums/jj521/gglazer/Raptor%20Stage%203%20Install/RaptorFirstExcursionSheepCanyoncompilation.mp4

Busted the power steering pump and had a tuff drive down the rocky trail to get home, that was quite the workout. This is when it happened doing donuts in 2WD, shifted into 4 wheel high and attempted to exit with wheels still in donut mode, pop went the pump. It was not a pleasant sound! I went into low and crawled out without problem. I later learned that this was likely caused by the improper design of the pump reservoir that has the in/out upside down from optimum. Ford replaced pump under warranty. RPG is designing one made for racing that will work better.






 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Side note

I had planned to keep posting some each day. I just learned I need to drive up a bunch of stuff for my son. Its going to look like Jed Clampit going to Kaliforneea. A foosball table, Dinette set and Queen size bed - 500 miles each way. Rats, I had planned to go out to the desert and try out the new tires and Fox 3.0 (yeah, were not there yet in this build posting, but we'll get there soon. Promise.) Don't worry Blackhawk, I won't be putting any mileage on YOUR tires. will reply and continue on Monday. Go out and have fun in your Raptor!:gy:
 

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nice build thread. looking forward to seeing the rest!
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Liner options

Thanks for the positive replies guys... just got back from a 1000 mile road trip in Raptor, couldn't believe the amount of rubber necking and attention the Raptor brought. Only saw one other one on the journey and I was looking. Saw a bizzilion Hummers in Sacramento, don't see those as much any more in San Diego. On with the build...


I spent quite a bit of time evaluating options for the truck bed liner.

Choices are:
Drop in, Spray on (line-X or Rhino-Liner), or Bed-Rug

Drop In liners have some very cool cargo management features that I like, but cargo will slide easily, not good if you are always hauling a lot of materials and tools, great for loading and unloading. They protect the bed to a point but damage from sand and friction can damage the bed underneath. Think of it like putting slip covers over your seats and having them end up wearing the seats anyway, not a good thing.

Spray In liners are permanent. They create a non slip surface that is way better than stock. It is expensive though. I moved some appliances right after getting the truck and scratched the bed up pretty good. Doesn’t take much with the crappy paint they use now a days to limit VOCs . (but don’t get me started on environmentalists…)

Bedrugs come in two different models and you can do partial or the whole thing. They are very light weight, have deep foam that levels out the bed. It is designed to resist stains and can be easily cleaned. The perfectly molded sides zip to the bed cover and everything is attached with industrial Velcro. Cargo does not slide and the resulting surface is soft on the knees. I got mine thru Amazon complete for under $336.84 delivered. (model BRQ04SCK)

Installation was pretty straight forward, I zipped it together and left mine in the sun for a few hours to warm up prior to installing, letting it conform some to the bed. Then it was a simple mater to mark locations for where the cargo tie downs come thru. There are two ways to install. You can remove and re-attach to the outside of the cover, or what I chose to do was to make a small incision with razor blade from back side and simply slide cover one edge at a time. This minimizes installation time and makes it easier to remove cover when necessary. Other suggestions not in the instructions would be to place the Velcro tabs on the ribs instead of the valleys on the tail gate and head wall.

Sorry I did not take any pictures of the install of the rug or the F-1 as both were done quickly with only minor complications and are well documented on the internet by the manufacturers.

On yesterday's 1000 mile weekend trip to deliver a huge load of furniture (for my son moving out of the dorms into a house), BedRug worked great to protect stuff, minimize pad wrapping. We also picked up a full size refrigerator , Washer and Dryer for $200 and moved it. This is a case where the BedRug may not have been the best choice as the feet of the Washer and Dryer want to catch. Fridge was on wheels so not much of an issue, but power lifting the washer was a chore. We also bought a full size desk for $12, it was full sized and heavy and slid in nice as could be. Tailgate closed and it looked like the desk was sized exact to the length of the bed. Guys from thrift store were impressed.

I love the Bedrug, the look and comfort of it are great.

Here is what it looks like completed:




 

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That looks good. Hey, question here, does the bed cover lid come completely off when you are loading stuff and if so, does it come off in seconds and not minutes? Again, which model is that? I'm interested if that is the case.
 

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Great build thread so far! Loving the pictures and documentation...

Lets hit the trail sometime soon, I'm trying to plan a get together in May for a few people from the forum, maybe down towards Anza-Borrego/Ocotillo... or possibly on the east side of the Salton Sea towards Bradshaw trail.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
That looks good. Hey, question here, does the bed cover lid come completely off when you are loading stuff and if so, does it come off in seconds and not minutes? Again, which model is that? I'm interested if that is the case.
I will be posting the build for the cover later today. I will try to take some more pictures putting it back on tonight as I have not had time since my trip. I was going to put back on this morning but it rained last night and the Bedrug is pretty wet. Cool thing about it that I did not mention is that it has no affinity to hold water, it is all synthetic, and the foam is the same as used in life vests. It should be dry this afternoon if the marine layer lifts..."May Gray" here in America's Finest.

To answer your question, yes, the cover can come off without tools, two knobs and washers, less than a minute without the Bakbox. With the BacBox, it takes longer as it is difficult to get your hand back there, plus I slide the box partially under the cover to better utilize the cargo space of our smaller beds. So for me, I have to either squeeze my fat hands between box and cover to remove knobs or I can simply loosen knobs, pull box forward, lift and remove box, then remove cover, either way it is quick.

For most things, you really don't need to remove cover, simply fold last section up in place and lock using the side arms. The bacBox can fold behind and you lose maybe 6" of bed space "Above the side rails". It also provides some protection to the cab in this position. For intense moving jobs like what I just went thru, I needed the whole bed so I removed.

Check out Blackhawks build too as he details the various differences in the BakFlip models. I went with a version of the F1 that includes the contractors side rails. MTF Thanks for the question
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Great build thread so far! Loving the pictures and documentation...

Lets hit the trail sometime soon, I'm trying to plan a get together in May for a few people from the forum, maybe down towards Anza-Borrego/Ocotillo... or possibly on the east side of the Salton Sea towards Bradshaw trail.
Matt, I am down for that!

Still don't have a radio yet. I read on your build how you have a 50W model, and I like where you put it too. Corey is trying to convince me to go with a 110W model with remote face plate. Not sure I need that since I am not planning on doing a Baja 1000, lol. Frankly, I have zero experience with radios, what I have learned is that it is best to get them pre-programmed with the channels you want to use. Any and all suggestions would be most welcomed!
 
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