In the heart of it all, a team of Ford engineers and a professional rigging crew stood in a half circle, tensions high, a pallet of wood hanging ominously above the bed of a new Ford Ranger.
“Three, two, one, go!”
On cue, a magnetic latch released the 180 kg pallet of wood from 2.6 meters above the Ranger’s load box. During the first test of Built Ford Tough, a new online documentary series from Ford, engineers pushed the resilience and strength of the Ranger’s truck bed and suspension to the absolute limit. The wood slammed into the bed with the force of 36,150 Newtons, equivalent to a static weight of 3,685 kg, or more than 20 times the original weight of the stack of wood, and the suspension absorbed the impact with 127 mm of downward movement, before settling comfortably into its laden state.
The energy from the impact spread through the cargo box structure, compressed the springs and dampers and then traveled through to the tyres. By the time the initial force reached an industrial scale beneath the tyres, it registered just 1,500 kg in equivalent static weight: The Ranger’s load box design, suspension and tyres had absorbed more than 2,000 kg of the impact force.
The wood pallet was only the beginning. Engineers dropped an additional 180 kg of concrete blocks and 180 kg of metal pipes into the cargo bed, registering peaks of more than 1,700 kg and 1,900 kg on the scale, respectively. Next came a 210 kg stack of concrete tubes latched together with steel wire, which registered a peak impact on the scale of more than 2,000 kg. The Ranger took it all in stride.
To top off the grueling test, two “cherry picker” hydraulic lifts raised up above the Ranger, and a thunderstorm of cement sacks brought the cargo weight to the maximum payload of 1,100 kg.
The cargo box in every truck is reinforced with crossmembers to help provide strength and stability when handling heavy loads, but the Ranger was engineered with an innovative structure that improves strength and durability. The design fully integrates the crossmembers with the sidewalls to deliver improved strength and resilience when dealing with heavy loads, even those dropped from far above.
At the front of the box, the crossmember runs up the sidewalls all the way to the top, and at the back a crossmember extends fully into the rear pillars and is solidly welded at all points. Of the three central crossmembers, two are semi-integrated into the sidewalls. Finally, the overall structure is stabalised by welding on sheet metal panels.
No detail was too small to overlook. The Ranger’s bed is made of high-strength steel and the corrugations were designed to be wider and deeper, which maximises stiffness while reducing the thickness and weight of the steel panel. This also helps reduce fuel consumption along the way.
Over the lifetime of the vehicle, two areas of the cargo box are generally subjected to more punishing stresses: the front corners near the cab, as drivers tend to push heavy loads toward the front; and the rear mounting points, which see increased stress due to their location at the end of the truck where there is more frame movement.
Edited: Ford Malaysia