A trip out to the Los Angeles just wouldn't be complete without stopping by ICON Vehicle Dynamics out in Riverside. ICON had invited us out for a tour many moons ago, and we finally squeezed in some time to swing by and get a first-hand look at their assembly and testing facilities. While we've been a little disappointed with some of the backorders and delays for some of the ICON products that we know and love for our beloved F150s, SVT Raptors, and Super Dutys, it's not for lack of trying. ICON's popularity and, by extension, the demand for their awesome and high-quality suspension parts has absolutely exploded over the last year. While there's been a few struggles, ICON is winning the war, and they're churning out suspension hardware at a masterful pace.
We here at Stage 3 have done business with the folks over at Banks Power for a long while now, and last week, Bill and Dylan got the opportunity to take a tour of Banks' Headquarters out in Azusa, California, east of Los Angeles. We got the full tour of their extremely impressive manufacturing and testing facilities, saw some of their upcoming F150 EcoBoost products, and even got to meet the man that started it all and who still puts in 10-hour days at 70 years old – Gale Banks himself. Dylan and Bill got the royal treatment, and we want to thank everyone over at Banks Power for letting us come in and poke around.
With the release of the newest variation of UPR's oil catch can, there are now just enough catch can options out on the market to make things confusing enough that we here at Stage 3 should do a writeup on the subject. The good news is there's only a few different types of catch cans across all of the brands available on the market, so breaking them down isn't overly difficult. We'll use UPR's catch cans as an example. In any case, here's our brief overview of all the current catch can options available here at Stage 3.
With both our 2007 F150 5.4L XLT Project Truck and our 2012 F150 EcoBoost FX4 Project Truck successfully lifted and on off-road tires, we decided to head up to Wickenburg, Arizona to look for some trouble. That trouble was the Box Canyon Trail on the Hassayampa River. While bone dry for the majority of the year, Arizona's monsoon season is in full swing, and the off-road gods blessed us with plenty of standing water, mud, silt, and other fun terrain that we could throw our truck's around in. The 2007 F150 is rocking one of Zone's 6" Suspension Lift Kits and has 20x10" Fuel Lethal wheels with a -24mm offset with Mickey Thompson Deegan 38 35x12.50" tires. The 2012 EcoBoost FX4 likewise has a Zone 6" Suspension Lift Kit and is rolling around on 20x9" Fuel Trophy wheels with a 01mm offset wrapped in 37x12.50" Mickey Thompson ATZ Baja P3s. Needless to say, we had a good time. Make sure to check out all of our photos after the jump!
We're pretty big fans of huge lift kits, and we really can't just leave well enough alone. Even though our 2012 F150 EcoBoost FX4 had a set of Rancho QuickLifts and Rancho rear shocks when we first picked it up, we needed something a little more capable and something more massive for our truck. Our friends over at Zone were kind enough to give us a lift – literally – by getting us one of their awesome 6" Suspension Lift Kits for the 2009 to 2013 F150 4WDs. The kit provides a huge increase in ride height and wheel clearance, easily giving us the ability to squeeze on a full set of 37x12.50" Mickey Thompson ATZ tires wrapped around 20x9" Fuel Trophy Wheels with a 01mm offset. While our 2012 F150 EcoBoost was already looking pretty mean, this kit and wheel and tire combination brought it up to the next level. Just like the Zone lift kits we installed on our 2007 F150 and 2005 F150, this 6" kit was an excellent balance of quality, fitment, durability, and price and has made our truck one of the toughest things around.
While the 5.4L Triton V8 under the hood of our 2004 F150 4WD XLT Project Truck is still running strong with 170,000 miles on the clock, the vehicle it happened to be in is very tired. No where was that more evident than in the rear shocks. Now, that truck had it's 6" Pro Comp lift kit on when we first picked it up. We don't know how long it had been on there, but given that the Pro Comp ES9000s weren't doing much of anything but taking up space, we're guessing that kit was installed fairly early in its very long life. In any case, it was time for a change just to get back a decent street ride, so we stuck with Pro Comp and grabbed a set of their 2004 to 2008 Pro Runner Series Rear Shocks for 6" Lifted Applications. The Pro Runners are bit more heavy duty and durable than the baseline white-body ES9000s, so we were pretty pumped to get them installed and have our truck running clean and mean once again.
Banks is one of the biggest names in the diesel truck performance world, and while they've dabbled in a few gas-powered trucks here and there – most notably with their exhaust kits – but they've finally put in a bigger effort with the F150 EcoBoosts with this awesome Ram-Air® intake system. This drop-in cold air intake fits all 2011 to 2014 F150 EcoBoost trucks thanks to its MAF and MAP sensor adapters and comes standard with a full air box assembly with a front air duct, deep-pleated Banks Lifetime Air Filter, a one-piece inlet tube assembly, PCV adapter, and high-quality silicone couplers and clamps. The kit is 100% complete out of the box and pretty impressive to look at, especially when its installed. While not as radical as the aFe Stage 2 kits that we've previously installed, the Banks kit looked pretty snazzy and we were pretty pleased with the end result on our 2012 F150 EcoBoost FX4 Project Truck.
We've been waiting for our opportunity to pounce on a new 2015 F150 ever since they were announced, and now that time has come. We here at Stage 3 Motorsports have just placed our order for a 2015 F150 with a 3.5L EcoBoost V6. The truck's coming with a 145" wheelbase with a SuperCrew cab and a 5.5ft bed. The paint color will be Race Red, and we're planning on going with a black on red color scheme once again since it looked oh, so good on our 2012 F150 5.0L. Thanks to Ford's revised submodel/package scheme, what we ended up ordering was a Lariat with a 501A Equipment Package that was also paired up with Ford's FX4 Appearance Package and Trailer Tow Package. Basically, we stacked packages on top of packages in order to get what we needed. The truck will look more or less like the image below...right before we bastardize it into something even more awesome. Unfortunately, we've got a good bit of waiting to do. The 2015 F150s aren't expected to land en masse until late December or January, meaning we probably won't see our 2015 F150 until mid- or late January.
There has yet to be a project truck here at Stage 3 Motorsports that hasn't been graced by the goodies our friends over at Recon Lighting manufacture with gusto. While our 2012 F150 EcoBoost FX4 received headlights from elsewhere, and our plans for the taillights and third brake light are currently up in the air, we did grab us one of Recon's 60" Xtreme LED Tailgate Light Bars. Now, we've put Recon's standard 60" bar on several of our trucks, but this Xtreme bar is a whole different animal. Each Recon Xtreme tailgate bar features red running lights and white reverse lights, but also comes with scanning amber turn signal LEDs that look totally awesome when you throw on your truck's blinker. While all that sounded pretty awesome on paper, we wanted to get one of these bad boys on a truck to see it in action for ourselves.
Trying to handle your F150's tailgate with your hands full generally means pulling the handle and letting it come down to a crashing and clattering stop that neither looks nor sounds very pretty. That's the main reason that the DeeZee F150 Tailgate Assist is such a handy little doohickey. The kit basically consists of a small strut and mounting hardware that installs on the driver's side of your truck's tailgate and keeps your tailgate from crashing down by slowly lowering it to a safe, non-life threatening stop. The DeeZee kit is extremely easy to install and comes with everything you need to get the kit on your truck. We only had one fairly minor issue with DeeZee's nutsert, which was solved by using a much more beefy nutsert tool than one provided by DeeZee. Still, installation only took a few minutes, and the tailgate on our 2005 F150 Project Truck is now a smooth operator.