Beyond the Hitch

Transform Your Stock Truck

Capt. Mike Genoun February 20, 2015

Transporting boats is what we do. We may not earn a living trailering vessels from one destination to another, but towing our prized possession to and from the boat ramp is how many of us start and end our fishing day. Additionally, we use our pickup trucks and SUVs to haul gear, coolers and more importantly, our family and friends. For these reasons and more, it is essential we own and operate a tow vehicle that can perform any task we demand both safely and effectively.

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With only a few aftermarket upgrades your tow vehicle will perform better than ever.

Drive through any marina parking lot on a sunny Saturday and you’ll see many 2WD and 4WD trucks that appear to be adequately equipped. However, where and how does one go about enhancing the capabilities of a tow vehicle without breaking the bank? As the owner of a stock RAM 1500, I recently asked myself the same question and turned to California Custom Sport Trucks located in Ft. Lauderdale, FL for answers.

The introduction of airbag suspension has proven to be an excellent alternative to expensive lift kits.

For over 20 years, fishermen and boaters all over the Sunshine State have trusted California Custom Sport Trucks (calcustoms.com) to transform their stock trucks into the vehicles they really wanted all along.

Tires & Wheels
Like many satisfied customers, along the way I learned that there are numerous options truck owners can choose to enhance performance and towing capabilities without having to trade in their existing vehicle. It all starts where the rubber meets the road, which is exactly where torque is transferred into traction. Few components of a capable tow vehicle are more important than properly inflated all-terrain tires with plenty of bite. If you do nothing else, a tire upgrade alone will provide greater traction and stability on slippery ramps and wet roadways. While you are at it, a set of aftermarket wheels will provide the custom look you always wanted.

Airbags
While most of today’s 2WD and 4WD trucks are rated with ample towing capacity, our tow vehicles often to sag in the rear when hooked up to a loaded trailer. Thankfully, there is a simple accessory from Air Lift® that levels the truck while simultaneously improving handling and safety when towing. The introduction of airbag suspension has proven to be an excellent alternative to expensive lift kits. These systems provide anywhere from 1,000- to 5,000-pounds of load leveling capacity to ensure a safe, stable ride. An airbag is inserted into each of the rear coil springs, or on top of the leaf springs, and are inflated and deflated by a pressure switch mounted on the dash powered by an on board air compressor with a 2-gallon reserve tank. With rear airbags installed, drivers can eliminate squat, trailer sway and bottoming out. And thanks to a retractable hose, the on board compressor provides unlimited air wherever and whenever you need it.

Drop Hitch Ball Mount
With a 29 foot boat, camper and pair of wave runners parked out back, life should be complete. There’s just one problem…the trailers they are sitting on all stand at different heights. In a perfect world you’d have three different trucks equipped with three different ball mount hitches. In the real world you need a single hitch that is compatible with a variety of trailers. Adjustable ball mounts like The Fastway® Flash adjustable aluminum locking ball mount slide up and down in one-inch increments and lock firmly in place. From a sagging trailer neck to a towering rise, adjustable ball mounts let you dial in the ideal height for safe, stable and secure towing. Best of all, they come complete with two different size hitch balls and a secure locking system.

Lighting
Ample lighting is a big deal. Boat storage facilities, marinas, municipal parks and dirt roads leading to little-known honey holes are often poorly lit. Early morning fog also decreases visibility. Heck, at some point or another we could all use better lighting for both convenience and safety. This is where the latest generation of low-profile Rigid Industries super bright LEDs enter the picture. Forget about those old fashioned round off road lights that are big, bulky and suck up a ton of juice. New solutions are inconspicuous, barely draw any power and are available in a wide range of sizes with simple plug and play harnesses built to last. Opt for a light bar mounted in the front bumper and a pair of floodlights aiming back toward the trailer and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them.

Security
Sad but true, security has to be a main concern. With crime on the rise across the state, you should be skeptical of leaving expensive gear in your vehicle unattended, and never leave anything valuable in plain sight. It is for this reason avid outdoorsmen opt for lockable Extang bed covers. The latest generation of which are retractable and very light. They are also attractive, easy to remove and reinstall in a flash with zero tools needed. With a lockable bed cover you can feel confident leaving extra rods, tackle bags and other expensive gear in your bed fully protected from the elements and prying eyes.

Interior Solutions
No truck can be labeled an ultimate tow vehicle without interior considerations. Look no further than WeatherTech® FloorLiners to fully protect your carpet and interior from sand, salt and moisture. WeatherTech® FloorLiners are laser cut to perfectly fit any make and model and feature an advanced surface design that channels fluid and debris into a lower reservoir that can easily be drained and cleaned. Somebody somewhere actually put some serious thought into this product and it shows. Seat covers are also an excellent idea, with just as many variations and designs as there are anglers.

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