If all goes as planned, I will be driving my new truck for the first time tomorrow night. The place that is putting the stake bed body on tells me they should finish it up tomorrow.
For the first week or two my focus will be more along the lines of making some mods to the signal/directional/warning lighting, as well as installing an auxiliary battery as part of that project. The auxiliary battery control box will have provisions for powering the electronics built into it, hopefully making the powering of anything I add an easier job.
I found out that FORD, and apparently most other auto manufacturers as well, completely farm out the publication of shop manuals to http://http://www.helminc.com . They haven't released the manuals for the 2014 F350 yet. They tell me they will come out in a month or so. The service manual comes on a CD ($170), and I will wait for the CD to be available. However, I figure I will need the wiring manual (printed only) asap. I don't believe there is any significant difference between the 2013 and the 2014 so I ordered and received yesterday a 2013 wiring manual ($79).
Since this isn't my first dually flatbed, I already know some of the issues as far as external lighting/signalling go. To start with, the federal requirements for trucks that are this wide mean quite a few more lights are required by law, and they all have to work all the time. Loose/corroded connections and burned out bulbs are a nightmare to keep under control, especially as a vehicle ages. I am going to try to do a bit better job this time around.
The truck as I receive it will have on the back of the bed on each side a white oval backup light and a red oval combo stop/turn/marker/hazard light. There is also a third brake light mounted on the top of the headache rack on the body. I believe they are incandescent, not LED lamps. there area also 5 smaller red lamps on the back of the body ("ID LAMPS") as required by law to make it obvious that this in not a skinny car going down the road.
In my opinion, incandescent lamps are not reliable enough at all, so they mostly all will be converted over the LED versions. In addition, the White oval backup lamps will be replaced by a couple of Hella 100 Marine deck lamps that will be relocate and mounted to the sides of the frame. The Hella 100's will be the only incandescent lamps I will be installing. Hella makes some LED flood lamps as well, but at about $200 apiece, I am going with the cheaper ($65 each) halogen versions for backup lights. It is pretty rare that a backup light burns out in my experience... they usually die from corroded connections before the bulb goes, so from a cost perspective I think the Halogen version is an OK choice. The marine "100" lamps are similar to the standard automotive version, but on the marine grade verison there is a wire gland where the wire comes out, the wire pigtail is marine grade wire, and there is an O-Ring to seal the lens housing together.
Once the white oval backup lights are relocated from the truck body, the holes where they used to reside will be replaced with amber oval LED directional lights. I will rewired things so that the brake/turn lights are brake only, and the amber lights are turn only. From a safety perspective, such an arrangement is better as it makes ones intentions more quickly understood. I also plan to put two additional amber directional lights in either side of the headache rack, way up high for better visibility. I also think I can squeeze in a couple of additional brake only lights in the center under the bed as well, but I haven't seen the truck yet with the bed on it so I don't quite know what I have to work with yet.
In the process of rewiring the backup lights I am going to install a relay and power the backup circuit off the relay instead of stealing all the power from the factory backup wire. The original wire will simply power the relay coil. A big wire will be run from the axillary battery the the relay contact, allowing for a substantial increase in reverse current capability without any significant voltage sag. This will make for brighter backup lights I believe.
Also powered by this circuit will be the backup camera and backup beeper. In by old truck, the backup beeper is rated for 97 dBA. That is pretty loud... loud enough to probably wake everyone in the neighborhood up on a quiet morning. Yet, at times, in a noisy environment it just didn't seem to quite cut it. The one going on the new truck is a "Smart Alarm", which automatically adjusts for 87 to 112 dBA, depending on how loud the environment is. This should annoy the neighbors less, but make it obvious that I am backing up in a noisy environment.
One thing that always annoyed be is that when I back out of a parking spot (not a trivial task in a truck this size), you always get a jerk or two that shoot out from nowhere and shoot past me rear end as I am backing up. Sometimes it is hard to see these "A's", and it really gets annoying playing parking lot chicken with them. So, I am also adding to the backup circuit a couple of amber oval LED strobes. One will be placed on either side near the back, so when I start to back up anyone coming at me tangentially will be looking at a strobe light flashing in their face. Time will tell, but I think it might help reduce the number of people that try zipping by me while I am trying to back out of a parking spot.
The amber directionals, both the ones on the back and also the ones on the headache rack, have a strobe feature as well. I am going to wire things to a switch so that if I flip it, the directionals, plus the amber backup strobes, will all go on in a strobe pattern. The odds of someone saying "I didn't see you parked there" should be pretty small. My last truck was rear ended a total of 3 times while I was parked with E-flashers on. Each time, they told the cop, "I didn't see him" (like the cop believed that). Fortunately for me, when you rear and an 8000# truck with a 12 inch by 1/2" steel plate for a rear bumper, the damage to the truck can often be fixed with a $5 can of black spray-paint. This was not true of any of the cars that hit me btw.
On previous truck I have battled with intermittent ground connections off and on. Connecting wire to the frame is always a long term crap shoot in my opinion. I'm sure that many other people feel the same way, especially on newer vehicles that seem to have so much plastic and so little metal to ground anything to. This time I am going to try something a bit different. I am going to install a ground "ring" up one side of the truck and down the other. The ring is going to be made of #6 marine grade wire. It will have breakout points at strategic locations. Each breakout point will have a number of 12 G marine grade wire pigtails coming out of it for easy access to a good ground anywhere I might want it. Each breakout point will also have a connection to the frame. The two ends of this ground ring are going to have lugs installed that will be bolted to stainless steel 5/16" studs that will be welded to stainless steel plates that are going to be welded to either side of the frame back in the rear. I figure with multiple connections all over the place to the frame and dedicated stainless studs on the ends. there won't be an issue with intermittent grounds any more.
O ya, and then there will be the air horns. My old truck had a compressor/tank powered air horn. It was really loud, but it didn't like cold weather. The air control valve would freeze up in the winter, and either not work at all, or not stop blowing after I stopped pressing the horn button. THis time I am going with a WOLO two horn compressor-less system, but I am not quite using the kit as it comes out of the box. IN fact, the only thing I will be using out of the box will be the two trumpets. The single compressor that comes with the kit will be replaced with a pair of WOLO high output compressors - one powering each trumpet. It should be pretty damn loud still, but hopefully more hassle free. Also, each of the two horn notes will be in essence "independent" with separate compressors (and separate horn relays" powering each, providing a bit of redundancy.
I am figuring all this will take two or three weeks, and then I can focus my attentions more to the inside of the truck come the beginning of next month.