(All photographs by Scott Bourne unless otherwise noted and all images made with Olympus, Micro Four Thirds cameras and lenses.)
It’s finally finished. I have been building this year’s “Work Truck” for about six months and it’s finally (almost) where I want it.
I’m going to be doing a good old-fashioned, six-week-long, photography road trip this fall and I want to be safe and comfortable – so enter the new 2019 RAM Rebel.
The Rebel is the RAM (FCA America) model designed for actual off-road work. (Think Ford Raptor.) It has a factory lift and a slick air-ride suspension that is not only comfortable, but functional in the event that I need to create some ground clearance.
The truck arrived with the following setup:
5.7 Hemi – E-Torque Engine
Bed Utility Group
Level 2 Equipment Group (Blind spot monitoring, lane assist, etc.)
Alpine Stereo w. 8.4 ” Uconnect
4-Corner Air Suspension
Customer Preferred Package 27W
The truck has been modified to meet my specific needs.
Starting with the cabin:
I introduced sound deadening material from Silencer Inc. While the truck is already pretty quiet, additional sound deadening material just makes it a little easier to drive long stretches of highway without getting noise fatigue.
I added Mopar door sill guards to protect the truck from getting scratched up when I enter and exit the cab.
I’ve also beefed up the already spectacular Alpine Audio system with an additional custom enclosure for a second amplifier and two additional bass subwoofers. I am not gonna be that guy who goes down the street blasting my tunes, but I do like my music to sound good on long trips. The truck comes with an alarm system and location monitoring from RAM Trucks and Sirius XM, but I have added not one but TWO secondary alarm systems. For security reasons I won’t describe one of these systems but the second one is pretty cool and pretty foolproof so I’ll just mention that I have the top-of-the-line Compustar system and it integrates with my current key fob.
I have three safes in the cabin. Two in the rear floorboards and one in the center console. When I just need to put something away out of site for a few moments while I run into a gas station, I am confident these safes will last long enough to deter any would-be car prowlers looking for a quick score. I also added a break-proof glass to the cab which would take a good 20 minutes with a torch to cut through.
I’ve added several third-party accessories to the truck so I bought the sPOD aux switch panel and had parts created using a 3-D printer that make it work in the space where the sunglasses holder is positioned on the center stack. It looks like it’s OEM.
For both security reasons and to reduce heat, I have had the entire truck tinted to the maximum allowed by Washington law.
I added Mopar’s off-road cabin mats (front and black) and Mopar’s premium carpet mats (front and back) depending on what my application is.
Mods Made To The Pickup Truck Bed
My Rebel already came with a spray-in bedliner and secondary bed LED lights. But to safely and securely transport my gear I installed a sliding (lockable) drawer system from Decked USA. It allows me to put my photo gear in the bed and access it easily when I want to shoot. The Decked system is pretty stout but to add extra protection I put a Black Diamondback HD bed cover on the back. It is so sturdy that it will support 1600 pounds – which translates to me having an entire photo workshop standing on the back of my rig for elevation. The cover is lockable and uses very high security locks and is also alarmed.
Because I do go off-road and because sometimes I’m looking for owls at night, I’ve added some significant auxiliary lighting. I have a 20 inch LED hidden bumper LED light bar from Rough Country installed in the front grille. I also have two ZROADZ hood hinge 3-inch LED lights on the front of the truck mounted to the hood, and a 50-in, curved LED light bar from ZROADZ mounted to the top of the truck cab. Trust me when I tell you that I can see a long ways at night with this additional lighting.
The installation took more than 20 man hours and was a nightmare. Unfortunately the ZROADZ product, while very cool looking and very workable, doesn’t have lots of quality control. We were initially shipped the wrong product and when we got the right product we still had to essentially reengineer much of the mounting hardware. However, once installed, the lights work very well and look great.
Other Exterior Mods
I have mud flaps, a hitch bumper step and a bump frame from Weathertech. I have a 100 Watt Electric Air Horn from Sound Alert – because sometimes people are too busy texting to be driving and I want to help keep them awake. Likewise, I got a 112db Type-A backup alarm from Sound Alert so that when I have the rig in reverse, a beeping noise will alert the folks who decided it would be a good idea to walk through the parking lot at night, wearing all black while staring down at their phones and texting 🙂
I bought Black Rhino York Wheels and mounted a set of Open Range A/T tires. These are three mountain peak symbol snow tires that also work well in mud and even on highways.
To make accessing the bed easier, I added an AMP Research retractable bed step. And to make it easier to get into and out of the cab I replaced the stock running boards with GoRhino RB20 running boards. These have a better grip because they are coated with Line-X.
I added the Mopar front air deflector to offer better aero-dynamic performance and to send bugs up and over the cab instead of allowing them to smash into it.
I added Mopar side window air deflectors. These deflectors keep rain out of the cabin when rolling the windows up and down in a storm
One thing I have to add is fender flares which protect against rocks being thrown up against the side of the truck and damaging the paint. Unfortunately none are available yet for this model so that is why I said it is “almost” finished.
I blacked out the front lower bumper, skid plate and RAM logo because I just thought it looked better. I also got a full coverage Expel Paint Protection package to reduce damage from rock chips on the road.
I have built several “work trucks” over the years, some cost even more to finish than this one, but this is my favorite. It is the perfect mix between comfort – utility – cool factor and photo worthy. I want to thank Tacoma Dodge in Tacoma, WA | Park Place Auto Salon in Bellevue, WA | Les Schwab Tire Center in Bellevue, WA | Accuracy Automotive in Gig Harbor, WA | and Rainier Audio in Lakewood, WA for helping me with this project.
NOTE: Not all mods shown. For more info on the truck and to see more details visit RAMTRUCKGUY.COM.
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