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A New Path: Custom Ford Super Duty

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Photos by Iain Harrison

Andrew Bottrell’s life changed instantly on October 1, 2011. Less than four months earlier, he deployed to Afghanistan as a U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) tech attached to SEAL Team 10. 

On that fateful day, the vehicle Bottrell was riding in was struck by a roadside IED. In the wake of the explosion, he realized he had sustained severe injuries to his left arm and both legs — this would result in the amputation of all three limbs. 

As he spent the following months enduring painful physical therapy and learning to use his new prosthetics, he maintained a strong sense of determination. “Always dominate your life — do not let your life dictate what you do or how you live. If you do not like your situation, change it. Do not blame somebody else for it and do not wait for somebody else to do something about it.”

One Nut Shell container houses a battery monitor, circuit breaker, and master power switch for the four onboard LiFePO4 batteries. Those batteries are hidden between the outer walls of the TruckVault drawer system and the inner walls of the truck bed.

In 2018, Richard Harrison (aka The Old Man) of the famous TV series Pawn Stars passed away. He was a Navy veteran and loved vehicles, so his son Rick Harrison decided to give a custom truck to a wounded Navy vet in his father’s memory. Rick teamed up with Wounded Warriors Family Support (WWFS) to accomplish this goal; Bottrell was nominated by the EOD Warrior Foundation and eventually chosen.

WWFS had built custom trucks for other wounded veterans in the past, so they approached Bottrell and offered him a new 2019 Ford F-250 Super Duty with hand controls, an automatic wheelchair lift, and any other modifications to make his life easier. Bottrell explained that he doesn’t own a wheelchair, and they replied, “Well, what would you like to have added to your truck?” After he put together a wish list, WWFS started on the build.

First, Bottrell’s F-250 was sent to Kelderman in Iowa to receive a variety of the company’s air suspension upgrades. The front suspension was replaced with a Kelderman 2-stage stock height kit, and the rear suspension was swapped out for a stock height 4-link system. An Air Lift control system was also installed, along with dual compressors in a weather-resistant box, two 3-gallon air tanks, sensors, wiring, and more. Bottrell says, “It’s like riding on a cloud — it’s so smooth.”

The Kelderman adjustable air suspension allows this F-250 to ride smoothly, both on and off road, regardless of how much weight is loaded into the bed.

The next stop was at Nuthouse Industries in Ohio, where it received a Tech 3 Series Expedition Bed Rack equipped with numerous accessories. One side of the rack features two Rotopax diesel containers and a water container; the other side carries another water container plus two 18-inch Nut Shell modular storage boxes. 

Each side of the Nuthouse Industries bed rack is equipped with storage for fuel or water tanks and other gear. It’s also equipped with area lighting for nighttime activities.

The first box contains the brain of the Super Duty’s auxiliary power system, a Xantrex charger/inverter, which is linked to the truck’s alternator and four Dragonfly Energy LiFePO4 batteries in the bed. This system provides 400 amp-hours of power, which is accessible from a power strip inside the second Nut Shell box.

This electricity can be used to power a SpitzLift DC-powered crane in the bed, allowing Bottrell to lift heavy gear in and out of the truck, or even suspend a deer for gutting and skinning after a hunt. The batteries also power the deluxe lighting package Nuthouse Industries installed on its rack, a Dometic CFX100 fridge-freezer for camping trips, and various other small electronics. 

The power-operated SpitzLift crane swings out and extends up to 4 feet, helping Andrew Bottrell hoist coolers and other heavy items into the bed or the TruckVault drawers. With a mast extension, it can also lift the rooftop tent off the top of the rack.

The fridge typically sits alongside a Canyon Coolers Navigator on a Cargoglide sliding platform, which is bolted to the top of the TruckVault locking drawer system. Nuthouse also installed Fab Fours bumpers, Warn winch, Rigid Industries LED lights, and even ported air from the Kelderman tanks so Bottrell can re-inflate his truck’s tires on the trail. In case of emergencies in remote locations, a WeBoost cell phone network extender and a Garmin InReach satellite communicator ensure he can always call for help.

Finally, Bottrell had an iKamper rooftop tent and a Bush Company 270-degree awning attached to the top of the rack, making the truck a comfortable base camp for multi-day outings. But even without the spacious tent, Bottrell pointed out one upside to having detachable limbs: “I disassemble, so I can stretch out on the back seat to sleep.”

With all these upgrades, Bottrell’s F-250 is equipped with everything he needs for an active lifestyle off the grid — spare fuel, shelter, water, cold food and drinks, lighting, and more than enough juice to run power tools and other electronics. So far, he has used it to hunt wild pigs with his dad in central California, hunt elk in Montana, and hunt Nilgai antelope in Texas, as well as for several cross-country road trips.

Although losing three limbs wasn’t the path Bottrell anticipated taking in life, he hasn’t let that stop him or even slow him down. He’s thankful for the new truck that has made it easier for him to enjoy adventures with his family and friends. 

Recoil 65 Truck (1)
Hunting is one of Bottrell’s favorite hobbies, so he enjoys having a truck that serves as a comfortable base of operations in remote areas. Adding a Skin It Rite gambrel to the crane allows him to skin game easily.

2019 Ford F-250 Lariat Sport 4×4

  • Drivetrain: 6.7L Power Stroke turbo-diesel V-8 with hand controls and a Titan 55-gallon fuel tank
  • Suspension: Kelderman 2-Stage front and 4-link rear air suspension, Air Lift 3H Electronic Air Control System, dual air compressors, dual 3-gallon air tanks
  • Wheels & Tires: Stock 20-inch wheels with 285/65R20 BFGoodrich KO2 tires
  • Body Modifications: Nuthouse Industries Tech 3 Series Expedition Bed Rack with Nut Shell storage boxes, Rotopax plates, and Maxtrax mounts; TruckVault Field Ranger bed drawer system, CargoGlide CG1000XL bed slide, Fab Fours Matrix front bumper and Vengeance rear bumper, iKamper xCover rooftop tent, Bush Company 270 XT awning
  • Electronics: Four 100-amp-hour Dragonfly Energy heated 12-volt LiFePO4 batteries with Xantrex Freedom XC 2000-watt inverter/charger and custom power box containing a Victron Energy battery monitor, Blue Sea Systems circuit breakers, and a power strip; SpitzLift LTD-4QRT 4-foot DC-powered crane, Rigid Industries bumper lights, Nuthouse Industries deluxe bed rack lighting package, Dometic CFX100 fridge/freezer, Warn Zeon 12-S Platinum winch
  • Interior Upgrades: Console Vault center console safe, Greyman Tactical seat back MOLLE panels, Garmin Navigator tablet on a Ram Mount, WeBoost cell phone network extender
  • Owner: Andrew Bottrell, San Diego, CA
  • Special Thanks: Wounded Warriors Family Support, Rick Harrison from Pawn Stars, Nuthouse Industries, and Dragonfly Energy

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