Tips & Tricks on How to Quiet the Haters
Have people ever doubted you and told you from every direction that you can’t accomplish something your mind is set on DOING? Call them haters, naysayers or whatever, but the best way to shut them up is to handle your business and prove them wrong. That’s exactly how Mark Schaefer of Longview, Texas, took care of everyone who said he could never build his 2012 Dodge Ram to the level he always talked about. Did his truck get finished overnight? No, but he made sure that he was constantly making progress on it—and turning down the volume from the peanut gallery as to not be distracted from doing what he had to do.
It’s not every day you see a killer Dodge Ram laid out on big wheels with insane paint, which is exactly what pushed Mark to get his finished. He wanted it to be different, unique and feature some work that is oftentimes unseen on a Dodge pickup. When he bought the Ram, it has previously been altered, which presented its own set of problems. Given how much work goes into fully customizing these trucks with a clean slate, it’s just that much harder when you have to correct another person’s previous mistakes before proceeding with the plan at hand.
“The list of problems was rather massive,” Mark says. “The first builder really did a number on this poor truck, but luckily I was contacted by Keith Still of Compound Custom Fab who said he could help get it back on the right path.”
Keith had his work cut out for him. He had to fixate on repair work before he could begin to focus on moving forward with the suspension modifications on the agenda. Once he patched things up, Keith then began fabricating a sectioned front member and rear back half to lay the Ram down low. Custom control arms and drop spindles assisted in bringing the front end down, and Air Lift ‘bags, Accuair VT tank, and a lineup of four Viair 485 compressors sourced from HornBlasters helped assemble a bulletproof air ride suspension system for the Dodge.
To finish off the newly reimagined chassis setup, Keith wanted to incorporate a set of wheels that would get noticed, and to do that he figured he’d go big. Raceline’s Sidewinder wheel makes a great impression no matter the diameter, but only a large hoop would do in the case of this Ram. The front two wheels measure 26×9—a healthy helping of billet for sure, but the rear 26×14 units take the cake.
The original Mopar engine was yanked and set aside, so Keith began the search for a replacement, and found a 2017 GM LT1 unit that would do the trick. To make things even more interesting, the transplant motor was outfitted with an LT4 supercharger complete with lower intake adaptors from Weapon X Motorsports. To take full advantage of the LT1 mill, a 2017 Camaro SS 8-speed transmission was brought in to make driving the Ram an absolute blast.
“The engine is actually one of my favorite parts about the truck,” Mark admits. “Keith was sure that he could make it, along with the trans, work just fine. This is why I recommend to everyone to fully research builders before hiring them. Keith has a lot of talent and creativity, and this truck would not be what it is today without him.”
Red is a vibrant enough color to get noticed on the street, but of course Mark was looking to add a little more heat to the fire. Gage Watson of Texas Wreck-a-Mended was brought in to spray a fresh coat of Chrysler PR4 Red paint, and Patrick Reid of Madd Concepts was then enlisted to wield his trusty airbrush to throw down some amazing graphic work that starts on the hood and stretches across the front and rear doors, straight down the extra wide rear dually fenders, and then around to completely engulf the tailgate. If you glossed through that sentence, take another glance, or better yet check out the photos instead. Keith decided to go all out and run with a 2012 Ram 3500 Megacab dually bed to not only ensure there was enough room for the girthy rear wheels to breathe, but the extra width of the fenders gives the Ram an appearance of being an absolute bully.
Keith also wanted to create a clean cab space since he does have every intention to drive his Ram as often as possible. To maximize style and comfort, Texas Seat joined the party by recovering the factory buckets in supple black leather with diamond stitch detailing. Dakota Digital VHX gauges not only deliver the truck’s vital signs, but they also update the dash with incredibly cool illumination. A booming sound system wasn’t something Keith wanted to be stuck on the road without, so he had a custom blow-through center console designed and filled it with Memphis Audio subwoofers. Just like that, the Ram’s interior game was elevated immensely.
This Dodge Ram hits all the marks of a legitimate show truck and then some. It’s low, it’s loud, and it has some serious style that makes its mark wherever it goes. The final product did take some three and a half years to create, but to Keith, there was no rush since he wanted to make sure everything came out just right.
“Shortcuts don’t exist,” he reminds us. “It was ‘shortcuts’ that got this truck into trouble to begin with. It took a solid plan, a lot of research, talented craftsmanship and quite a bit of money to turn this truck around, but it was all worth it to me in the end.”
Keith doesn’t hear much negativity these days regarding the status of his truck. The debut of the Ram basically silenced any and all haters in an instant. He kept his head down and kept grinding on a project he knew had the potential to live up to his high standards.
“I’ve experienced a lot of heartache with this build, and honestly nothing like this is ever as easy as you’d think,” he says. “I pulled off what I was constantly told I could not do.”
Now, that’s a feeling that should feel pretty damn good.
2012 Dodge Ram 1500
- Shop: Keith Still @ Compound Custom Fab, Gilmer, Texas
- 2017 GM LT1 6.2L V-8
- CVF billet front drive system, including hydraulic power steering
- LT4 supercharger
- LT4 lower intake adaptors by Weapon X Motorsports
- Custom hand-built heat exchanger built to fit Ram core support
- 2017 8L90-E Camaro 8-speed transmission
- Sonnax billet output shaft adapter
- Custom two-piece driveshaft by Longview Driveshaft
- Shop: Keith Still @ Compound Custom Fab & Rigo @ Hornblasters
- Custom sectioned front crossmember
- Air Lift 2600 ‘bags at all corners
- Custom control arms and drop spindles
- Accuair VT w/ e-Level
- Four Viair 485 compressors
- Custom built frame back half
- Aluminum fuel cell by Martin Fountain @ Soulless Innovations, Gulfport, MS
Wheels & Tires
- 26×9 and 26×12 Raceline Sidewinder wheels
- Tri-Ace tires
- Shop: Paint by Gage Watson @ Texas Wreck-a-Mended, Longview, TX
- Graphics by Patrick Reid @ Madd Concepts, San Leon, TX
- Chrysler PR4 Red paint
- Hand-built front and rear sheetmetal inner fenders
- 2012 Ram 3500 Megacab dually bed
- Shop: Texas Seat, Seagoville, TX
- Factory bucket seats covered in black leather
- Dakota Digital VHX gauges w/ OBD reader to work
- Memphis Audio subwoofers and speakers
- Hand-built blow-through center console