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Finishing Touches Get This Pickup Road Ready
Bruce Smith | February 27, 2014

Surveyor1 beauty_BS25862

Adding custom graphics, GPS navigation, rearview camera and helper springs ready our Ram 2500HD for the road

For the Surveyor 1 Truck Sweepstakes Part V, the ProPickup editors transformed a 2013 Ram 2500HD 4×4 Crew Cab truck into an even more versatile, powerful tool for the jobsite. One contractor will win this truck after the build is finished.

Like most work trucks, Surveyor 1 started off as a base-model Ram Truck 2500 SLT diesel crew cab 4×4. The factory upgrades were minimal to keep purchase costs minimized while affording the occupants the comfort and features that would maximize their work efficiency.

That meant a custom navigation system and reverse camera – two items we wanted Surveyor 1 to have as a matter of increased safety and efficiency in the field.

Back-up safety

This "smart mirror" from Escort has a multitude of built-in functions similar to a smartphone, including GPS and direct Internet access.

This “smart mirror” from Escort has a multitude of built-in functions similar to a smartphone, including GPS and direct Internet access.

A back-up (aka reverse) camera or audible warning system is essential in this truck’s setup because the surveyor cargo management system and bedcap combo blocks the driver’s view of what’s behind the truck.

So we turned to a new product from Escort: The , which is a rearview mirror with built-in GPS, hands-free cellular and rearview camera system that replaces the OEM mirror. It takes a couple of hours to install, but when done, the SmartMirror2 provides a lot of electronic bang for the buck.

The installation requires removing the stock mirror, running the SmartMirror2 wiring harness above the headliner and down the “A”-pillar where it then runs back along the frame rails to the rear of the truck to the camera. Camera power is via the reverse lights; when they come on, so does the camera. 

One twist in our custom installation was adding the dime-sized camera centered in the tailgate below the Ram’s head badge. This location gives a good view of the hitch while keeping the lens protected from road spray.

We also installed Escort’s new radar warning system. The little black cube device slips into the hitch receiver tube and plugs in to the OE trailer connector. It uses a pulse signal to scan the area behind the truck from ground to about five feet high, covering the width of the vehicle to about 9 feet back.

The signal is sent to a small receiver that can be mounted anywhere in the cab. We stuck the little warning device on the dash where it emits both audible and visual signals telling how far an object is from the hitch.

A neat feature is if the distance between the object and the truck stays the same, the signal stops. So there’re no nuisance warnings. The downside is the Guardian Alert has to be removed when using the hitch. (Just slip it out and put it in the glovebox until it’s needed again.) 

Adding helper springs
Another area we needed to address on Surveyor 1 is keeping the truck level when it’s loaded down with surveying tools and equipment.

Hellwig Helper springs

These Hellwig load-leveler helper springs help keep the rear of our Ram 2500 from sagging when loaded down with tools and crew.

Although our 2500HD SLT has a maximum of 2,600 pounds, our bigger concern is keeping the departure angle (the angle between the bottom of the rear wheels and bumper) maximized for optimum off-pavement performance.

Between the A.R.E. ToolMaster bed cap and TruckVault cargo management unit, we’ve added more than 800 pounds to the bed. Figure in tools and crew of four, and the truck will be carrying close to a ton. 

That kind of weight will undoubtedly sink the suspension a bit and make it a little softer handling on/off-pavement than what we want.

So we made a fast, inexpensive upgrade to accommodate the expected load and use by adding a set of Hellwig load leveler springs and sway bar to the rear suspension.

The “Silent Ride” helper springs bolt right on top of the OE spring pack and take just a few minutes to install. They provide 2,500 pounds of load-leveling capacity, and they have special bushings at the ends so they don’t pop and bang going over bumps like more traditional overloads tend to do.

The Big Wig sway bar is also easy to install. It does a remarkably good job keeping the big Ram from leaning in sharper turns, giving it the ride and handling much like it was right off the showroom floor. 

Camo wrap_BS24531

Richard Trahan applies Camoclad-designed/produced custom vinyl graphics to Surveyor 1. Vinyl is a special 3M product that can be easily removed without harming the Ram 2500s’ factory finish.

Vinyl eye candy
One of the other additions we did to Surveyor 1 was laying on some custom graphics. Graphics on a work truck are a great way to advertise one’s business 24/7. Anytime a truck is on the road and it looks different, people take notice. Why not take advantage of that for free advertising? 

Come up with creative ideas, and there are suppliers all over who can turn those into fun graphics for your trucks.

is the company we used for Surveyor 1, and the design displays what the truck is all about: Surveying.

Joe Warner, the owner of Illinois-based Camoclad, came up with the design concept from graphics used on some WWII Mustang fighters and the tape used on a survey leveling staff. Richard Trahan, from Advanced Signs & Graphics in Louisiana, handled the application part. 

Lincoln Electric_BS24298

No shop should be without state-of-the-art welding/cutting equipment. Our installer’s shop is outfit with a Lincoln Electric Power MIG 216 welder and Tomahawk portable plasma cutter.

Bring on the heat
Some upgrades and modifications on Surveyor 1 weren’t off-the-shelf or needed some customizing/fabrication to make them fit our needs.

When those mods involved working with metal, Warren Spears turned to his two favorite Lincoln Electric products: a Power Mig 216 welder and Tomahawk plasma cutter. With those two tools at his disposal, and Lincoln’s top-of-the-line protective gear, no metal fab job was too big or too small.

Spears trimmed, cut and welded brackets, fabricated steel parts, and handled a number of other tasks with the Lincoln products during the build-up of our 2013 Ram 2500HD. He also put the same equipment to use in the day-to-day operations of his auto body repair shop.

Having the right tools and equipment is what makes a business efficient and safe. We think Surveyor 1 is the right tool with the right equipment to make any surveyor’s day-to-day job easier, safer and more efficient from shop to jobsite — and back.


SURVEYOR 1: Presented by Mobil Delvac & Ram Commercial Trucks 

Supporting Sponsors

  • Amp Research; ; 800-309-6823
  • A.R.E.; ; 330-8307800
  • Fab Fours Bumpers: ; 866-385-1905
  • Transfer Flow; ; 800-442-0056
  • BD Diesel; ; 888-841-8884
  • Marathon Seat Covers; ; 800-735-2769
  • Rigid Industries; ; 480-655-0100
  • Escort Inc.; ; 800-964-3138
  • BOLT Locks; ; 877-251-8798

Special Thanks: Warren Spears, Spears’ Auto Repair, Long Beach, Mississippi; 228-863-1878 



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