Nicholas Fluhart

February 11, 2011

Upgrades to the ’02 F-150

Filed under: Daily Driver — Nicholas Fluhart @ 8:02 pm

I recently upgraded my daily driver, a 2002 Ford F-150, with a trailer brake controller, new headache rack, and auxiliary lighting.  I went with a Hayes brake controller which is primarily for use with my 16ft trailer. The electric trailer brakes are great when hauling something heavy like my tractor and bush hog. Since the truck didn’t have a factory tow package, I basically had to wire the entire system from scratch, but that’s OK because I had been wanting to do some other wiring upgrades as well. I placed an auxiliary power output at the rear bumper as well as a few other components via an auto-reset circuit breaker at the battery. The auxiliary power is great for trailer-mounted work lights or other electrical equipment on a trailer.

But the one thing I was glad to finally get done was a headache rack upgrade with auxiliary work lighting.  If you’ve read many of my other posts, you know one of my personal requirements for my machines is to have an abundance of lighting. I love to be able to work at night without holding a flash light. I’ve been using a commercial grade Go Industries contractor’s rack for a couple of years now. It’s very handy for hauling lumber, ladders, and most importantly, it protects the back glass and cab of the truck. I’ve been happy with it overall, but I’ve wanted something a little lighter and smaller since it’s on a half-ton truck. Recently, my buddy from Taylor Welding hooked me up with a nice aluminum headache rack which was perfect for what I had in mind. It maintained the same lines and structure as my original but at a fraction of the weight and slightly smaller dimensions. However, since it was a different color, and to properly fit the rack and components to my vehicle, I had to do some modifications. The first thing was to get it in the shop, remove the old headache rack, and take some measurements…

Steel Rack Removed

Taking Measure

Once I determined proper fitment, I began painting the new rack low-gloss black. The rack had a silver powder coating that was still in good shape, so rather than strip it and loose the corrosion resistant coating, I lightly sanded it and painted over it.

Next, I had to modify the rack for auxiliary work lights. One of my favorite 12V work lights is an LED model offered by Northern Tool. LED’s provide good lighting with very little amp draw (these only draw 1 amp per light) so they don’t over-tax your electrical system and can be run for long periods of time without running down your battery. This particular light provides a 340 lumen flood pattern which is great for a work light. Unlike a driving light, which utilizes a concentrated beam, flood lights tend to project light evenly over a broad range.  It has a good, industrial construction…

To fit the lights on the rack, I trimmed the louvers and mounted the lights to the top cross bar as shown below:

The light fitted to the rack.

Ready for installation on the truck.

Once the rack was installed, I wired the lights to a toggle switch in the cab and powered the system directly to the battery via a 25 amp circuit breaker. The project turned out great. The lights produce a perfect amount of light for the bed of the truck and for the working area behind the truck.

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