When Jeff came to us, he had a brand new stock Ford F250 Superduty that he wanted customized and he was as confident that Perfectionist was the shop as we were excited to earn the project. We discussed the types of modifications he wanted and it was quickly clear to us that this was going to be the biggest custom build in Perfectionist history. He wanted a larger than life, king of the off-road Decepticon themed monster of a truck.
After some talk about budget, brands, timeline and a few handshakes, we began the journey towards the custom truck history books with visions of SEMA 2020.
RIGHT: Elijah, Chris, and Aaron stand with MG8RON moments after completion
INSTALLATION LEAD: AARON GARCIA
TEARDOWN, REMOTE START AND SOUND DEADENING
The first objective on our Decepticon themed build was to tear out the entire interior and start from scratch. Seats, carpet, door panels, floor and side panels, radio, headliner, everything. A clean and empty cab was needed before moving forward. First thing on the checklist was to install a CompuStar T12 remote start and alarm with a Drone X-1 module. This would allow our customer to lock, unlock, remote start, protect, and GPS track his truck from anywhere in the world so long as he and the vehicle are within cell reception. The alarm is capable of detecting glass breakage, a 3 to 6 degree tilt movement, and sudden shock vibrations leaving the truck as protected as possible. With the amount being invested into the truck, this was an absolute must.
Second on the list was the Momento M6 smart dash camera. This is a Wi-Fi enabled, full HD (1080p), dash camera system that includes a front and rear camera, GPS antenna, and comes with a 32GB micro SD memory card. It provides 270 degrees of surveillance coverage and records footage that you can view from the Momento smartphone app. It will continously record everything at the front and rear of the truck while driving, store 15 seconds of footage before and after any impact or shock the truck experiences, and even when parked, it has motion sensors that trigger recordings. Another absolute must to protect this major investment.
Before even coming to our shop, the customer had already been set on using JL Audio as the brand for all of his audio components. The truck came factory with only a front stage set of components and a small factory screen that barely had bluetooth. The plan was to fit four C7 6.5″ component woofers, four C7 1″ component tweeters, a 13.5″ W7 subwoofer driver, an HD1200/1 monoblock amplifier, and a VX800/8 full range amplifier with an integrated digital sound processor all in this single cab.
The foundation to any amazing audio system is sound deadening. We use our very own flagship brand, Soundshield. Our product is composed of three different layers. First layer being the adhesive butyl rubber, solidfying the panel mounted to eliminating road noise. Second layer is aluminum foil for heat reduction. The last layer on top is closed cell acoustic foam for amplifying everything inside the truck acoustically. On this build, we started with the inner door skins. We then created templates in house to make the outer door skins look absolutely perfect allowing wiring, bolts, and other factory components to still be accesible and servicable. Next was the roof as this is probably the most open and resonating flat panel of sheetmetal on the cab. The back wall and floor were next as we covered as much as possible, cutting around any bolt holes, airbag modules, wiring, and center console mounts, keeping all the logos facing the same way making it visually very pleasing. With the cab completely sound deadened, it was time to move on to wiring.
WIRING AND POWER
Wiring began underneath the hood. First was to upgrade the stock power cable from the alternator to the factory battery, the ground from the battery to the frame, and the ground from the engine chassis to the frame as well, all using 0 gauge Stinger wire. This not only helps prevent future power issues but helps all the factory electrical components run smoother as well. A 0 gauge Stinger power wire kit was used for our run from the battery, through the firewall, and to the secondary battery we’re going to install behind the passenger seat which will also be our power and ground distribution point for both the amplifiers. We ran Stinger RCA signal cable’s from the headunit, Stinger speaker wire from each speaker location, underneath the center of the carpet, and to the passenger side of the back wall where both amplifiers would get mounted above the extra battery. Now that the truck has been wired, the first steps of fabrication were about to begin.
CUSTOM SOUND FABRICATION
We started with the front stage component speakers. The factory door speakers are such an odd shape and stick out almost 1.5″ from the outer door skin so the only way to integrate aftermarket properly was to build plate adapters identical to the factory ones that our C7 component woofers could mount to. We designed them with Adobe Illustrator and used our Glowforge 3D laser printer to cut them out of acrylic. To obtain the desired thickness, they were cut and had to be assembled in four layers. We used a special acrylic bonding chemical that fused the plastic together, creating an extremely strong finished product the speaker could mount to. For the tweeter pods in the A pillars, we used to same method and created a single layer mount that would utilize the factory mounting points. Too jazz up the front doors a little, we cut the factory grills out, and created a new decepticon design. The front doors and A pillars were ready for reassembly.
Next was fabricating the extra battery and amplifier mounts. We chose to use a high end AGM XS Power D3400 series as our spare battery. It can handle up to 4000 watts continous power. The mounts were welded together out of steel. The battery rack mounted to the vehicle via factory bolt locations and the amplifier rack bolted through thread-serts we drilled and pressed in for the strongest hold. Once the racks were put together, we sanded them down, primered, and painted them in a matte black finish. We then bolted them to the vehicle, mounted the battery and amps, and wired them accordingly. Now it was time to install the new headunit.
For the new radio, we chose to go with a Linkswell Generation 4 Tesla style with built in navigation. This headunit features a 12.1″ HD touch screen android tablet, navigation ran with Google Maps and WAZE, 2 USB inputs, 32GB memory, 4GB ram, HDMI input and output, 4×45 watt built in amplifier, 5 volt preouts, Apple Carplay and Android Auto, retains the factory backup camera, and built in WiFi. With the screen being so large, it actually replaced the factory heater controls which all become digitally controlled through the headunit as well. A HUGE upgrade from what the factory radio had to offer our client. With the dash fully assembled, we were ready to start the center console portion of the project since it was going to run from the back wall to the front and mold into the dash.
CENTER CONSOLE TRANSFORMATION
The center console is going to be the center piece to the entire interior build so we really wanted to go above and beyond to making it stand out right when you jump into the truck. The foundation of the console was the subwoofer box that housed the JL Audio 13.5″ W7 subwoofer driver. When we pulled out the old center seat console combo, we left the mounting brackets for it so we were able to utilize all the factory mounting points to secure our console build into place. The less holes we have to drill into the truck, the better. The subwoofer enclosure started taking shape of the center console we had envisioned and we built off of that to create our center piece. It featured acrylic rails on either side of the console starting from the dash and running to the back wall that lit up blue, a decepticon logo lasered from clear acrylic laid over black acrylic that also lit up blue, and a lasered acrylic plate in the front that housed two stainless cupholders, a bass knob, two USB’s, and a button that turns on and off the blue interior lighting. We also lasered our name and a mini decepticon logo into that front plate. On the sides, in the front of the console is where we mounted the second set of JL Audio C7 component speakers. What wasn’t acrylic on the console was MDF and wrapped in black vinyl. With our center piece finished, we only have two more steps to accomplish before the interior is complete.
Tuning all the audio was our next goal. For this, a laptop and oscilliscope were required. An oscilliscope is an electronic test tool we use to graphically display and measure clean alternating current (AC) signal coming from the radio and amplifier. We can figure out at what volume where the radio or amplifier starts clipping and sending distorted music to the speakers. We then tune at the maximum undistorted output volume of the radio. In most situations, we can literally tune a complete system with an oscilliscope 90% of the way before even physically listening to it . The JL Audio VX800/8 amplifier we chose to run all the speakers completely active also has an integrated digital sound processor (DSP) that required to be tuned through a PC laptop with the JL TUN software. DSP’s offer a much more advanced and in depth tuning process than what any radio or standard 4/6/8 channel amplifier can give you. Advanced crossover settings, time alignment, and much more. With the sound system completely tuned now, we’re almost finished.
The final task in our interior build was to trim in the back wall where we had exposed sound deadening, amplifiers, a battery, and wiring. Even though nobody was going to see behind the seats, we wanted it to look just as clean as the rest of the interior and flow into the center console. The trim behind the drivers side was subtle with a laser engraved decepticon logo and on the passenger side, a smaller laser engraved decepticon logo and a small viewing window exposing the JL logo on the VX800/8 amplifier. Both panels were wrapped in black vinyl and mounted to the back wall.
With the interior finally complete, we we’re only through the first phase of the completed MG8RON build. It was time to move onto the exterior portion of the build.
INSTALLATION LEADS: CHRIS KING AND ELIJAH HICKOK
PHASE ONE: TEAR DOWN, AND LIFTED SUSPENSION
The first thing with the exterior of the build was figuring out what to tackle first. We came to the conclusion that we should strip the truck and prepare it for the suspension surgery. We removed all components that would get in our way of installing the suspension lift kit. Next we pulled the axels out from under the truck where she lived on jack stands for the next week. Once the truck was torn down, phase one had officially begun. Our first task was mounting the center cradles for the four link traction bars. This allowed us to begin assembly of the front axle and suspension components including the coil over conversion, secondary shocks, and dual steering stabilizer. With the front end mostly assembled, it was now time to tackle the rear four link conversion. This started with mounting Stryker’s axle brackets and the frame plate for the rear coils. The rear axle was then re-attached to the truck using the new four link bars and coil-overs. After meticulous measurements where made, we were able to perform an alignment on the front and rear axles and center up the front steering. This is when we realized the true nature of what was being built and how large it was going to be.
PHASE TWO: WIRING & LIGHTING
With the suspension now complete, it was time to move onto the grueling task of wiring. This was accomplished while the truck was still stripped down to cab and frame, allowing for the cleanest install possible. The first step was custom fabricating a relay bank and aftermarket fuse box. This was not a task for the faint of heart or unskilled as this truck was being equipped with 36 Rigid Industries LED Lights accompanied with Recon and Morimoto accessories. Along with all of the aftermarket lighting, we custom fabricated two complete on-board air systems composing of two independent air compressors, air tanks, and six of the loudest train horns made by Klein. With everything pre-wired, it was time for phase three of build.
PHASE THREE: EXTERIOR FABRICATION
Phase three consisted of reassembly of factory body components such as the front fenders and truck bed. With those items mounted and aligned, we moved onto assembling the Addictive Desert Designs chase rack. It was then we noticed a Perfectionist solution for our wiring components; custom build an abs plate to mount underneath the headache rack portion to house the junction box necessary for the trucks aftermarket lighting. After some fabrication work, it was decided that a layer of bed liner would be the best option for exterior durability and proper curb appeal. With all exterior lights mounted and wired, it was onto the puzzle of fitting all the off-road gear requested by the customer. This was to include two full size spares, 63 gallon fuel tank, two swing out storage cases, front driveline, loaded tool box and Pro Eagle Jack thus leading us to phase four.
PHASE FOUR: WHEELS & TIRES
Phase four was to include mounting the massive 46 inch Mickey Thomson tires and custom made Dick Cepek bead-lock wheels, installing the Fab Four open fender system, mounting the front and rear bumpers, and finishing touches to make this a true Perfectionist build. Our customer wanted to be able to take the truck off-road, but also be comfortable on the highway. This was accomplished via the addition of balancing beads added to the 196-pound wheel and tire combo, giving a smooth ride at 75. To insure the truck was as off-road capable as possible , we went with Fab Four’s open fender system allowing maximum suspension travel without the tires rubbing on the trucks frame or fenders. Once the aftermarket Warn bumpers were mounted, we mounted the 12,500 pound Warn winch and Bubba rope. It was now onto the finishing details that made this truck even more one of a kind.