The ’96 Chevy 2500 gets all...
The ’96 Chevy 2500 gets all its 30 inches of lift from the suspension and huge, 52-inch Michelin tires. There is no body lift.
We are always interested in finding out the motivation behind the creation of the trucks in our magazine. When we interviewed Chris Farrell about his ’96 Chevy 2500, the Deltona, Florida, resident told us he and his family have been active automotive enthusiasts as far back as he can remember.
In high school, Chris was driving his modified ’86 Camaro through the traps in a quick 12 seconds. He progressed to a family built, 700hp S-10, screaming through the quarter-mile in 10.7 seconds. Although the Dime was great fun, everything changed when Chris visited a local truck tug-of-war. He had always been impressed with monster trucks as a kid, and after watching those high-torque competitors battling it out, he decided that would be the new direction for his hobby.
The family business, Powder Coating by Coolrides in Debary, Florida, has been a great combination of work and play, and that’s where his latest truck was built.
Chris traded the S-10 for this ’96 Chevy 2500, and it was soon rolling on 44-inch tires and 1-ton axles. Unfortunately, he also soon realized that lots more upgrades were required to ensure everything would hold together. Working in their well-equipped garage, Chris and his father, Andy Farrell, stripped the truck down to the cab. The original chassis rails were boxed and additional crossmembers were welded in place to handle the extra weight and new power. Beginning with Rockwell 2.5-ton axles, front and rear, they fabricated triangulated four-links from 1.75-inch DOM tubing with 1-inch Heim joints. The front suspension began with 9-inch lift coils—originally designed for a ’79 Ford F-150—the heaviest coils they could find. Airlift Engineering airbags were fitted inside the springs for additional support. The combination allowed an adjustable spring rate that minimized sway when cornering. “Those bags were a godsend and made the truck handle like a tall sports car,” Andy told us.
In the rear, the huge semitruck airbags from Goodyear are rated at 15,000 pounds each and allow precise handling adjustments. A 15-gallon reserve tank for the air suspension system was mounted in the bed. Sway bars were added front and rear, fabricated from Hummer H3 torsion bars and attached to the chassis with shop-made brackets. Pro Comp shocks (four up front and two in the rear) ensure a smooth ride. Steering for the big rig is simplified thanks to a hydraulic cylinder purchased from Tractor Supply. Chris and his father drilled and tapped the stock gearbox, using the mechanical leverage from the box to activate the hydraulic piston. Now the 9,000-pound truck parks like a compact car. Stopping the Chevy is also a cinch, thanks to oversize disc brakes from a Ford F-700 school bus. After machining the rotors to fit inside the wheel hubs, they added calipers from an F-350. “Stops on a dime!” Chris says with a smile.
The 1-ton differentials that came with the Chevy were not wasted. Chris traded them for the custom US 6x6 two-piece rims that hold the Michelin 16.00 R20 XZL tires used on 2.5-ton military vehicles. Although Chris and his dad tried several tire shops, no one could successfully mount the rims, so they fell back on an old technique: using a can of ether and a lighter. With forklift blades on top of the tires to ensure they did not go anywhere, they filled the tire with ether and lit it off. It seated the tire in an instant. As you can guess, the rims were updated with Sparkle Silver powdercoating—done at the family business.
The Chevy uses the best components...
The Chevy uses the best components from different manufacturers with numerous Ford parts adapted to the suspension and a complete Cummins 12-valve powertrain from Dodge. The multicolored truck has become the perfect rolling billboard for the family powdercoating business.
Of the three motors that have...
Of the three motors that have been in this truck, the 12-valve Cummins is the best. It sends approximately 300 hp and 600 lb-ft of torque to the five-speed manual transmission and Rockwell air shifter transfer case, moves the 9,000-pound truck easily, and still gets 20 mpg on the highway. A 40-gallon fuel cell means never missing an area truck show!
Chris Farrell and his dad,...
Chris Farrell and his dad, Andy Farrell, spent about a year creating their latest family project.