Lighter, Faster, Stronger: Project DeadSpool’s Weight Loss Journey

As you all may know, we’ve adopted a new project truck here, Project DeadSpool our 2004 Dodge Ram. While the truck has been extremely competitive in its current class. for the future we have decided to take this to not just another level, but a crazy level. This means we have and will go to any extreme to have that extra edge on the competition.

Knowing that our trucks’, Dodge, GM, and Ford, all weigh in the 7,000-plus pound range, making more horsepower and torque is going to be rough on an engine. We’ve made peace with the fact that we will have to take your everyday luxuries out of the truck to hit our goal weight of 5,500 pounds.

The point of the weight loss is to be able to run very fast elapsed times but doing so on a lighter platform. Hence the weight loss. Thanks to our friends at Summit Racing Equipment and GTS Fiberglass, that makes our goal within hands reach. Here is how it all went down in our push for a championship.

Going On A Diet

It is undeniable that the heaviest thing on a truck that you can remove and still operate safely is the truck bed. The bed on our truck was not only the factory steel bed, but it was also equipped with a spray in Rhino Liner bed liner and a B&W gooseneck turnover ball hitch. The weight of the bed was unclear, but after removing it with only two people, it was clear that it’s heavy.

GTS Fiberglass gave us a full tour of their facility and showed us how our bedside skins were made. Fiberglass is a lightweight and durable alternative to the factory steel parts.

Now that the bed was gone and a great amount of weight was shed, it was time to replace what we removed. That is where our friends at GTS Fiberglass came in. GTS Fiberglass provided our bed skins that we were replacing the bed with. The fiberglass skins provide the traditional look from the side but in reality, it’s just a skin that leaves the inside open.

As you can see, they have been made inside a factory dodge bed mold. This created the exact dimensions for what we needed for a short box. The downfall to the skins is it's exposing the leaf springs, fuel tank, driveshaft, exhaust hangers, shocks all of the ugly normally unseen parts. After a quick paint job, it'll look good as new.

The skins do not come prepared to mount. They require some customization and can be mounted in many different ways. After a few evenings in the shop, we headed in the right direction. We added some steel tubing for support arms on each side to hold the skins up straight and firmly. While racing down the track, we don’t want to have them flopping or coming loose.

With our support bars welded up and ready for mounting, we have started painting the back of the truck up. With all this exposure in the back, it makes us think about back halving a four-wheel drive. Maybe that's a future project?

An addition to the steel tubing we manufactured flat steel plates that were tack welded on the ends of the tubing. This created a platform for our skins to ride on when we were mounting them up. After drilling holes for our hardware, we used two-inch Allen head bolt’s and nutted it on the back.

With the inside of the frame rails exposed, it’s obvious that the underneath side was in rough shape and collected mud and grime over time. With that in mind, we took a wire wheel and Purple Power to the back side to clean things up for an overall better appearing product.

Taking The Diet All The Way

With weight loss still in mind, there was no reason to continue to keep the factory fuel tank. This 30-plus gallon tank weighed a ton even with only a quarter tank we usually kept it at. If you remember back a few months ago, we made a trip to FASS Fuel Systems for our lift pump install.

We deliberately mounted the FASS in the rear of the truck between the spare tire frame knowing we would eventually install a fuel cell. In a racing application, it isn’t necessary to use 30 gallons of fuel. Afterall, we’re only running a quarter-mile at a time. Thanks to Summit Racing Products, we got a 10-gallon fuel cell ready to install.

This fuel cell is made from a 5051 aircraft aluminum alloy that offers a superior strength in a lightweight package. Completely manufactured with TIG-welded seams throughout and a flush-mount, aircraft-style cap, this tank is ready for battle. The fuel is funneled out by -8 AN pickup, vent, and return line fittings.

After our cage was built around the new fuel cell, the back of the truck started to look a little more like a real race truck.

Using our Earl’s Performance Plumbing fittings, we’ve got our fuel cell plumbed to our FASS and all the way up to our twin CP3 injection pumps. We didn’t equip our fuel cell with the strapping system. We ended up turning to JK Fabrication, of Gordonville, Missouri to fabricate a strapping system and cage around the cell that would incorporate the frame rails for a cleaner look.

Two of our -8 AN fittings were plumbed to the Earls Y-fitting directly into the FASS lift pump.

Getting our fuel to the engine, while very important, wasn’t our only project. Having the correct return pressure and volume back to the tank was a must. Again, trying to lose weight, we removed the factory fuel filter housing and replaced it with BD Diesel Performance‘s new, fuel distribution block.

This fuel distribution block is a billet aluminum block that ensures consistent fuel pressure throughout the RPM range. It is designed for performance single or dual CP3 applications with multiple ports including auxiliary supply and return ports for dual fuel supply. Using our provided fittings and clamps, we attached to our fuel lines that were connected to the fuel cell.

Here, we are plumbing up on the high-pressure fuel lines to the distribution block.

Can We Call This A Diet Or Call It Crazy?

The fat loss didn’t stop there. Although it was a tough bullet to bite, we removed everything inside of the cab. Headliner, carpet, seats, and plastic trim all around. The only things remaining are a factory driver seat, dashboard, and the main air conditioning unit behind the dash. Which lead us to our next action.

Removing the rear bench seat was the first to come out. Being as that the truck is only going to be racing, we don’t see a future in carpooling. With the rear seat removed, we started at the front truck removing the center console and passenger seat. All in all, the amount of weight lost nears the 150-pound range.

The truck weighed 6,170-pounds with a 200-pound driver in it in this photo. We’re ecstatic to get this truck on the scales to see what we’ve lost!

Seeing that we haven’t equipped the truck with an aluminum racing seat, we had to keep the factory Dodge driver seat. But, needing to remove the carpet below the seating, we took the seat out. The carpet inside the truck tore about 35 pounds off the total weight. Realizing it wasn’t that much weight, we still are attempting to shed every possible ounce.

Getting rid of static weight from a vehicle will increase elapsed times as well as be easier on your drivetrain. While that is our objective, cutting our rotational mass will be much more effective. The 20×12 Anthem Off-Road wheels and the 305/45R20 Nitto 420 S tires we originally were running had a combined weight of  348 pounds.

When lowering the rotational mass, the general equation we have always heard is 10 pounds of sprung weight equals one horsepower. We have since switched to Mickey Thompson ET Street R tires and Mickey Thompson M/T wheels. The total amount of weight lost is 96 pounds. If that equation is true, that 96-pounds weight loss is equivalent to a little over nine horsepower.

For no more than changing out wheels and tires to a more of a drag racing style tire, we’ve gained more power and released some stress off of our drivetrain.

Overall, this project as a whole went fairly smooth. The mocking up our metal stands to hold up our fiberglass bedsides, lining up our hardened lines to our new fuel distribution block, building a cage around the frame rails for our new fuel cell to be secure, it was all made worth it after seeing the final product.

With this weight loss, our truck can now make faster elapsed times without stressing the engine any more. In any racing industry, you can either add extra horsepower and torque to thrust the truck faster, or you can make the truck lighter. Less weight is essentially more speed, but it’s uncommon for people to go to the extent we did to lose weight, but we aren’t playing around.

Stay tuned for the 2018 racing season as we will be in full force racing around the Midwest. For more information on our project truck, stay tuned to our website.

About the author

Artie Maupin

Artie Maupin is from Southeast Missouri and has an extreme passion for anything diesel. He loves drag racing of all kinds, as well as sled pulling competitions.
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