As you know by now, our Project MCLB Heavy Hauler is being converted into a long bed from a short bed, and from a single rear wheel setup to a dually. The main goal for our project, a 2006 Dodge Mega Cab Long Bed (MCLB), is to make some reliable-impressive power, but also enable it to haul some serious loads.
When it comes to choosing wheels, the task isn’t as easy as it seems. There is no buying a set of wheels and just slapping them on, and hoping for the best when it comes to building a truck — at least not without taking a few things into consideration.
One big deciding factor should include what the truck is actually used for, including hauling heavy loads on a consistent basis, or some light towing here and there. Also, as wheel size increases, the task becomes more difficult to find tires that have a high enough load rating if the truck is used for such a purpose. For Project MCLB, we decided to go with a set of American Force Twisters.
Project MCLB is not just a show piece. As we mentioned, it spends a decent amount of its operating hours pulling trailers and hauling loads like any diesel should. It also will see some dirt and gravel roads throughout its life. Most folks are aware that these are important factors when selecting a tire, and as you can see our selection lends to more than just city driving.
That being said, these factors must also be taken into account when selecting a wheel. Know what type of tires you want to run, and accordingly, which wheel size options are offered in that tire. Also consider the desired amount of sidewall and load rating needed out of the tire. All things considered, we selected the 22-8.25-inch wheels which carry a 3,500-pound maximum load rating.
We reached out to Nick Chin regarding the wheels that American Force produces, and asked how the company goes about helping a customer choose the perfect wheel to compliment their truck. As we mentioned, the intended use needs to be taken into account, in addition to the desired style before deciding on a set of wheels.
Wheels 101 AN
In speaking with Chin, we learned that what sets American Force apart, is the fact that they cater to the customers’ needs … they build to suit. Anyone can come in with an idea and a paper sketch, and American Force will do what they do best — bring that idea to life — from just a concept to the exact wheel the customer had envisioned.
“Our Super Singles (single wheels) account for the majority of the wheels we ship during any given period, however, our specialty is the custom forged dually wheel, and that s what people really know us for. It’s sort of our thing,” Chin tells us. “Our wheels are 100 percent forged T6061 aluminum, and that is really the best material available for wheels today on the truck wheel market. We feel that the T6061 has the optimum combination of cost, quality, strength, and durability for a truck wheel.”
Chin also explained that they aren’t much for following trends, but understand some companies have to. As you probably know, black wheels have been the big trend for a little while now. The black finish is popular in looks, but the black powder coat is easier to maintain than chrome plating, which requires a higher level of maintenance to keep it from pitting, and that certainly has contributed to black becoming an “in” color.
“We decided since we don’t have to produce wheels in high volume, we can do whatever we want. Our wheels have always been forged aluminum, which we then polish, allowing the customer to easily maintain for years to come. American Force is also capable of being more agile because we are not making production runs of 10,000 wheels, so we powdercoat instead of paint,” Chin says. Not only is black a choice with American Force, but nearly any color you can imagine is an option. Custom powdercoating allows the customer to have any finish they desire.
“Powdercoating enables us to do gloss black, flat black, textured black, metallics, bright colors, translucent coatings, and even two-stage colors. We started pushing that in 2013, and it’s finally coming around. Now there are a lot of companies that are coming on to the color scene. Our custom powdercoat capability allows customers to have any color wheel they want. They can match the wheels to the exterior or interior color of the truck. It gives the truck owner a greater sense of individual identity to be able to get the wheels any way they want from us,” Chin added. “You can get something off the shelf, or you can get something custom tailored to you and your desires. Custom is better!”
Chin also touches down on another trend — wheel size. Everyone wants bigger wheels (taller and wider). He mentioned that there are competitors that do make bigger wheels than American Force, but there are almost no tires to fit wheels at such a size. Well, what then?
“We have prototypes ready to go in these taller sizes, but until we see enough top-tier tire manufacturers with a selection of tires for these huge wheel sizes, we are not willing to go there. When there are good tires for these wheels, we’ll be able to meet that wheel demand right away.”
Chin went on to say, “So far the only company we know of that makes a 26-inch inch tire is a commercial tire maker and the sidewall is so stiff because it’s meant for huge semi-trucks, and they ride hard as a rock when applied to a pickup truck. Of the 26-inch tires, we have seen many constructed with 16 ply sidewalls, and that’s just too stiff.”
There is not a great difference in wheel selection between lowered trucks and lifted trucks. The difference is the tires you add to them. Low profile tires obviously go on wheels for the lowered enthusiasts. A low profile tire on a lifted truck doesn’t make much sense, and may look out of place.
“Guys with lifted trucks like to bump over things, and a low profile tire is not going to protect the rim of that wheel from damage like a taller profile tire will,” Chin says. “When it comes to wheel accessories, our wheel cap is one of our more popular items.”
A Whole New Look
Again, we could not be happier with our experiences with American Force, from design selection to installation. Project MCLB is definitely rolling with a distinct new look and a load capacity we can count on. We can’t wait to see how the wheels look on the truck once it’s gone through paint, and is fully looking its best.
Keep it locked on Diesel Army for new project builds and the latest in design from American Force Wheels!