Name is Mark, and I live at Reno. Wheeling since 1976, like 4x4s, ATVs, dirt bikes and my beloved, and sometimes hated, 1981 CJ8 Scrambler. Interested in all things Jeep!
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Owner: MegatronAdded: 27 September 2013 - 08:56 AM
Owner: MegatronAdded: 25 September 2013 - 07:37 AM
Owner: Moses LudelAdded: 15 September 2013 - 01:16 PM
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Owner: Moses LudelAdded: 15 September 2013 - 08:42 AM
Posted by RareCJ8 on 09 April 2013 - 09:46 PM
Name is Mark, and I live at Reno. Wheeling since 1976, like 4x4s, ATVs, dirt bikes and my beloved, and sometimes hated, 1981 CJ8 Scrambler. Interested in all things Jeep!
Posted by Moses Ludel on 27 July 2013 - 01:16 PM
All good points, Megatron, each deserves an explanation, so here we go...I'll begin by sharing that I ran a four-wheel alignment rack at a GMC truck dealership in the mid-'80s, the era of both beam front axle 4x4s and IFS 2WD and 4WD front ends. For fifteen years prior to that, I had been doing alignment with far less equipment than that new Hunter four-wheel, electronic light beam rack. Fifteen years after the dealership stint, I taught wheel alignment at the adult vocational training level and merged my varied equipment experiences, which reflect in what I'm now sharing.
It's great to use precision four-wheel alignment equipment. However, "computer" alignment equipment is also limited in many ways. For example, you describe aftermarket wheels, suspension and tires, and you're right, of the three (assuming the suspension kit is as adjustable as yours), the wheel offset is the most critical modification. Because your truck falls outside the OEM guidelines built into the software for modern alignment equipment, many shops will avoid doing your truck's alignment.
Reasons for refusal include "liability", "unpredictable results" and "possibility of abnormal tire wear"—regardless of the alignment procedure. In many cases, the shop simply doesn't know what they can do to address or compensate for your modifications...After all, this is the era of plug-and-play. Follow the flow charts or stare at the computer screen or scanner. Wait long enough, and maybe an answer will materialize...That's not going to happen here!
For now, let's suspend judgment about why your truck and millions of other 4x4s are in this predicament. You've installed all of this hardware, and it's time to make the vehicle track as safely as possible—and for the tires to last.
As for front axle lateral alignment, your adjustable track bar is a real asset. Alignment does reference from the rear axle, and for good reason. The term "thrust" is just what it sounds like: The rear axle on a RWD vehicle is the traction point, pushing the frame and the entire vehicle forward from the rear. Unless you're driving backward, your rear-drive truck requires the front axle to align squarely under thrust. (Thus the term "thrust alignment"!) The axles must be square, in any case.
To illustrate, draw a line forward and perpendicular to the centerline of the rear axle. This follows the driveline in approximate terms—unless the driveline is offset like with a side-drive transfer case. This line of force, aimed forward and perpendicular to the rear axle, becomes the reference point for the front axle's position. The front axle ends up parallel to the rear axle, which is simple to visualize on beam axle trucks like our Ram 3500 models. The front axle must also align sideways or laterally, the reason for your adjustable track bar.
Whether the frame is perfectly square or not, if the front axle is parallel to the rear axle (plane view from the top), and if the axles center laterally with each other, you can align the truck's front end. The frame should be square, though, because an out-of-square frame would place the springs, suspension arms and steering linkage at odd angles with the axles.
So, let's start with a square frame, no collision damage, and a rear axle that sets squarely in the truck. It's much easier with our leaf sprung, beam rear axle: The centering points for the rear axle are simply the leaf spring center bolts and the axle's spring perch holes—plus any spacer block alignment holes or pins.
Rear axle in place, you can use the string-in-diamond method for setting the beam front axle's position for both parallel to the rear axle and laterally on center. I used the string method for two illustrated how-to articles at the magazine: my Jeep XJ Cherokee 6-inch long arm installation at the "Jeep XJ Cherokee & MJ Comanche 4WD Workshop" (see the left panel menu) and also the Jeep TJ Wrangler Rubicon Full-Traction Ultimate 4-inch lift. The XJ Cherokee is similar to our Dodge Ram trucks with link-and-coil front suspension and leaf springs at the rear. Both Jeep vehicles have beam axles front and rear.
Critical to a string-in-diamond beam axle alignment is finding precise reference points at each of the axles. You must have a reference point at each side of the front axle that is truly equal distance from the axle's centerline. The rear axle on our trucks is simple: Use the leaf spring center bolts as the rear reference points. On a Jeep TJ or JK Wrangler, there are matching suspension points that are equidistant from the rear axle's centerline.
The front axle should align with equal string lengths to the rear axle, measured in cross or "diamond". This means measuring from the front axle's left side reference point to the right rear spring center bolt, then from the front axle's right side reference point to the rear axle left side spring center bolt.
This measurement must be very accurate. Even 1/16"-1/8" variance can make a difference. If there are obstacles under the chassis that prevent an accurate measurement, you may need to relocate your reference points or even make "extensions" from the reference points to below the obstacles...For these measurements, you can have the axles suspended to full drop, which may help the string lines clear the transfer case skid plate, the exhaust or any other objects in the way.
Be creative. It's crucial that your four reference points reflect equal distances from the center of each beam axle outward to each axle's reference points. Strings then measure in cross between the front and rear axle reference points.
Again, the end game here is to have the axles parallel and tracking in line with each other. When the front axle is offset laterally, one way or the other, we call this "dog tracking".
Note: Don't be confused if one axle's track width is actually slightly wider than the other axle with the wheels in place. Some trucks (G.M. beam axle 4x4s come to mind) were designed this way, typically with the front axle slightly wider than the rear. I won't digress into "why" this was the design, simply know that if your reference points match side to side on each axle, and if you run the string lines in cross to matching points at the opposite axle, you will determine both the square and lateral alignment of the two axles.
Checking for square with two strings-in-cross is a simple function of geometry. If anyone is having difficulty understanding the principle, draw a perfect square on a piece of paper; now draw an "X" from opposite corners, intersecting at the middle. Measure the length of each "X" line. It will be equal. If you now use a rectangle instead of a square, the results will also be two equal length, intersecting lines. Play with this, and then transfer the "X" lines to your truck's chassis: On your long wheelbase Dodge Ram 3500 truck, the beam axles represent the short ends of a rectangle.
The most elaborate "4-wheel" alignment machine will not produce any more accurate results than doing a string line test properly. Once you get the axles square, you can concentrate on a front wheel alignment. This, as you say, is not rocket science, and it's even easier with a beam front axle.
Camber, in particular, is factory pre-set on a beam axle. Camber measurement indicates the degree to which the axle beams, steering knuckles and ball joints are in alignment. As you mention, you can make camber corrections with off-set ball joints, or eccentric ball-joint seats, and a source for such parts is Specialty Products Company.
Caution: I am against "bending" beam axles to correct slight camber issues unless a racing, weld-on truss is part of the straightening process. (Be aware, too, that welding on a truss is a good way to warp an axle and alter camber!) Consider the axle tube and center section materials plus the original stress that caused the axle to bend. There are metallurgical changes that take place with cold or hot bending. If you need to correct for a slightly bent or out-of-spec axle beam, use offset ball-joints or eccentric ball-joint seats. Make sure the bend did not stress-fracture the axle pieces. Toss out the axle housing if in doubt—you can transfer internal pieces and add-on goodies to a new housing. (See the magazine's many axle rebuilding articles and the HD videos on axle setup.)
Be aware that beam front axles come from the factory with +/- camber often slightly beyond the factory recommended camber degree range. I have seen this on Dana Jeep front axles, typically at the short beam side with more factory welding. An extra 1/8 to 1/4-degree camber at one side is not earthshattering and likely was acceptable during OEM axle assembly and installation. This will not impair vehicle handling and has negligible effect on tire wear if you rotate your tires on time. If you are adjusting caster and camber with offset ball-joints or eccentric ball-joint seats, bring both the caster and camber within their recommended degree ranges.
To answer your questions about "do-it-yourself" alignment, go no further than these three features that I've done at the magazine. They each get brisk traffic, addressing alignment goals with inexpensive solutions for doing your own alignment work.
First is the ‘DIY’ feature on a beam front axle wheel alignment. This is a useful article for understanding the principles of front wheel alignment as well as a 'how-to' on using an affordable SPC Off-Road Fastrax 91025 gauge kit designed for tires to 44" diameter. Click here to see this DIY how-to and equipment article.
For those on a shoestring budget, a single gauge kit will do. You can even improvise on the need for turn plates. SPC suggests using plastic sheeting beneath the front tires for a slip surface. On a beam axle, you can unload the weight slightly with the use of two floor jacks, raising the weighted axle evenly and just enough to take the heavy load off the front wheels and tires. This provides easier wheel turning.
There is also a photo closer to home, my Dodge Ram 3500 4x4 alignment after installing the Mopar lift kit. Here, I purchased inexpensive front turn plates ($100 for the pair!) from Gil Smith Racing at New York. Gil is a personable family guy, and these plates do the job despite the massive front end weight of the Cummins engine, 9.25" beam axle and 500 pounds of Warn bumper with M12000 winch and stainless wire.
For the Dodge Ram alignment, I added a second Fastrax 91025 alignment gauge kit from SPC to make toe setting easier and quicker. This way, you can use the winged braces and separate gauges at each side of the truck during the alignment procedure. This eliminates the need to swap a single gauge set from one side to the other.
Last, but surely not least, is the HD video walk-through of alignment on a Jeep TJ Wrangler Rubicon. You'll like this for both a visual orientation and added quips about the process. In this HD video, I do use the double alignment gauge sets from SPC and the Gil Smith turn plates. You’ll see how this speeds up the process.
Some additional pointers on doing your own alignment at this level: 1) make sure the floor is flat in both directions or compensate when taking the measurements with the bubble gauges, 2) make sure the turn plates are thin (like the Gil Smith type) or if you spring for more commercial type turn plates (available from several sources, do a Google search under "wheel alignment turn plates"), make sure you raise the rear of the truck to compensate for the turn plate height at the front. Even with a 140.5" or longer wheelbase, a sloping or leaning truck will throw off your camber and caster readings with the SPC 91025 bubble gauges...If you want to add a touch of professionalism, purchase a pair of rear slip plates from Gil Smith Racing that will enhance the work and raise the truck's back end to match the front turn plates.
As you mention, always save the toe-in setting for last. Camber and caster angle must be right, with the vehicle setting at static (curb) height on the ground, before setting toe. I use factory toe-in and caster angle settings, and the Dodge Ram handles very well. And, yes, caster is important, this and steering axis inclination (SAI) are what return the front wheels to center after coming out of a corner.
The surest sign of too little caster angle is a vehicle that requires turning the steering wheel back to center after a turn. I'm at 4-degrees positive caster on the Dodge Ram 3500, closer to 7-degees positive on the XJ Cherokee. More can sometimes be better for off-pavement turning radius; however, factory specs are the best for normal tire wear and handling in general.
I mentioned another specification that is of concern during alignment: steering axis inclination (SAI). We can go into this if you want, but the important thing to note for DIY alignment purposes is that strange caster and camber angle readings over the full turning arcs (illustrated in the XJ Cherokee alignment how-to article and shown in the TJ Wrangler HD video coverage) are an indication of a bent steering knuckle on a later beam axle 4x4 or a bent spindle on 2WD and vintage 4WD vehicles.
On alignment equipment that will identify SAI error, if all measurements are correct and SAI is off, we inspect the steering knuckle, spindle or unit bearing hub for damage. Make sure any strange readings are not from bad steering knuckle ball joints or worn wheel/hub bearings! Better yet, inspect for ball joint, wheel bearing and unit hub bearing wear before attempting the alignment. Check steering linkage for loose joints, too.
This is ground school, we can go from here. As a light- and medium-duty truck fleet mechanic in the late 'sixties, I began aligning my own beam axle Jeep CJ3A and vintage '55 Ford F100 at home. On these vehicles, toe-in could be set with nothing more than a tape measure. If you do wheel alignment with turn plates, the steering linkage and suspension will be unloaded, and the measurements will be that much more accurate. Add rear wheel slip plates and Fastrax gauges, and you can emulate a "pro" alignment!
Even on the vintage 2WD and 4WD fleet trucks with beam axles, I did quick, rough-in beam axle wheel alignments with nothing more than a tape measure or a portable, adjustable "toe bar". Floor jacks were placed evenly under the axle at each side. I would lift the axle beam just enough to "unload" the wheels and tires. Before setting toe, I made sure the wheel bearings and kingpin bushings or bearings were in good shape and adjusted properly.
Tape measure alignments on the trail are often necessary when someone bows a tie-rod on a tall rock or snaps a tie-rod in half. A Ready Welder tie-rod repair at Moab's Rose Garden is just one place where your tape measure alignment skills would be popular. This can get a vehicle home from the trail and tracking down the road safely to a wheel alignment shop. When using just a tape measure for toe-set, make sure you follow the tread pattern closely at the front and rear midline of the tires.
When using turn plates to unload and center up the steering linkage and suspension, it helps to bounce the front end. Push down on the front bumper a few times—the bumper is conveniently located at waist height on your Mega Cab!
If necessary, use a pair of floor jacks under the beam front axle to take weight off the wheels and tires, then lightly rock the steering wheel at its center position before setting the front tires and steering wheel to straight ahead. This will unload the steering linkage for more accurate alignment settings.
When using a tape measure only (not the Fastrax 91025's wing arms), always measure matching tread points. Measure as close to the midline (3 and 9 o'clock) of the tires as possible. Avoiding obstacles is sometimes difficult, but midline of the tires is preferred. Always set toe-in, followed by centering up the steering wheel. You center the steering wheel by adjusting the steering linkage sleeves—never by removing the steering wheel and repositioning it!
Caution: The steering wheel spokes are factory set to align with the center or “high” point of the steering gear in the straight ahead steering position. Bring the front wheels into alignment with the centered steering gear and steering wheel—not the other way around! If the steering wheel has been repositioned from factory, find the precise center point of the steering gear. Position the steering wheel there before aligning the front wheels to straight ahead. This also applies when making fine steering wheel position changes after an alignment: Adjust the steering linkage sleeves, do not reposition the steering wheel! Always check toe-in again when you center the steering wheel.
To illustrate how well you can do a 4-wheel alignment with strings, a tape measure, a common spirit level and a protractor, I installed the Full-Traction Ultimate lift kit on the Jeep TJ Wrangler Rubicon in just that way! The job began with the vehicle on my hoist and as level/parallel to the ground as possible.
I placed a pair of adjustable tripod stands beneath each axle and raised the vehicle straight up, just enough to install the lift kit. The axles remained on the stands with cables and other chassis attachments still in place.
After installing the kit, including a bevy of adjustable link arms and a unique rear tri-mount suspension system, I used the string method to square the axles. The rear axle location, fortunately, was fixed by the kit’s design, so this became the reference for making everything square with the frame. The approach was similar to the rear leaf springs and center bolts on our Dodge Ram 3500 trucks. In our case, the rear springs and axle spring perches locate the rear axle squarely at the frame.
I set the caster with a quality bubble level and a 180-degree, indexed protractor. I set toe-in with vehicle weight on the axles and tripod stands, using a tape measure fore and aft (as close to 3 and 9 o'clock as practical) at the front tire midlines, keeping the tape as level and parallel to the floor as possible. In my view, this was all just a preliminary, rough adjustment.
The next stop was a friend's shop with a $40K alignment rack capable of 4-wheel "thrust" alignment. On the alignment rack, to everyone's surprise, the entire suspension system took only one-half turn of one threaded link arm tube to be fully square! Caster was on, camber (non-adjustable on a solid beam axle) was okay, toe-in and centering of the steering wheel were just routine, slight adjustments.
Caster angle was within spec and did, as you describe, provide an acceptable angle for the front/pinion U-joint flange. With a double-Cardan (CV) joint at the transfer case, there is some leeway on this front axle pinion joint angle, and the compromise is between caster angle and U-joint angle. Like you comment, caster usually wins if you want the vehicle to steer correctly!
For modified trucks with suspension lifts and oversized wheels and tires, there are two very important considerations for handling. First, the aftermarket wheels' offset and the tire diameter must provide the right intersect point with the ground. This is the “scrub radius”.
Visualize the front wheels pointed straight ahead. Draw a line through the ball-joint stud centerlines and observe where that line intersects the tire tread at the ground. This point must be similar to the OEM wheel/tire intersection point, or you will swing the tire on an odd arc during turns, resulting in strange handling and premature tire wear. Scrub radius impacts tire wear as well as handling.
Secondly, consider the arc of radius and caster angle changes as the front suspension (link arms in your case) rise and set. Arc of radius is why we do long-arm kits for dramatic lift. When we increase suspension travel, short arms exaggerate the caster angle changes as the suspension extends and compresses.
Long link arms are the solution for increased suspension travel. Longer arms will create less caster angle change over the suspension and axle’s arc of travel—or radius. Simply put, you can set the caster at static/curb weighted chassis height, and the caster angle does not vary excessively as the link arms move up and down with the axle.
When buying an aftermarket suspension lift kit or bigger/wider wheels and tires, consider these issues. In looking at your Mega Cab components, I really like the stamina and quality of the aftermarket joints, link arms and drop brackets! What you want at the end of the day is suspension that behaves as well as or better than OEM engineering—yet with the lift and tires you desire. Going beyond “looks”, the goal is to understand the demands and dynamics of vehicle suspension and handling. Doing your own wheel alignment is a good start.
As for the rear axle, the usual concern is pinion and driveline angles for U-joint survival. Within reason, you can rotate the axle housing for pinion angle change without affecting vehicle handling, as the rear drive axle’s shafts are not sensitive to caster. (If we were talking about a front wheel drive car or an IRS/AWD car, there would likely be provision for adjusting rear wheel caster, camber and even toe-set.) For our trucks, tall lift blocks at the rear leaf springs can create some issues, mainly traction and spring windup related.
So, you might skip the visit to the local 4-wheel alignment shop and the brief Car and Driver read—likely just long enough for the tech to discover that specifications for your lifted and modified '06 Dodge Ram 4x4 Mega Cab are nowhere to be found in the alignment machine's software program. As an option, consider the SPC Off-Road 91025 alignment equipment...Two kits work even better than one!
Used properly, this accurate, portable SPC setup can help you dial your front end alignment for both safety and good tire life. Bubble caster and camber gauges were an automotive industry standard for at least sixty years prior to light beam, infrared, RF and laser alignment equipment.
I entered the service and repair industry when we were still called "mechanics", and breaker point ignitions were the norm. Smaller shops used floating caster/camber bubble gauges that fit magnetically to the end of front wheel hubs! Professionally, I've spun wrenches all the way into the contemporary electronic fuel-and-spark management "technician" era. Electronic, beam four-wheel alignment equipment has been in vogue for more than three decades now...I find it advantageous to have walked in both worlds.
Beyond alignment, make sure that the wheel offset and tire diameter add up to a safe and tolerable "scrub radius”. As an alternative to Car and Driver, sift through this Wiki info about scrub radius and SAI. When you widen the wheel rims, you can only go inward so far. (Rotors, calipers and hubs limit the inward wheel position.) For that reason, wide rims almost always offset to the "negative" direction or outward. If there are wheel backspacing choices, match up the wheel width, backspacing and tire diameter wisely! The concern here is the scrub radius.
We lift our vehicles and mount oversize wheels and tires for a variety of reasons. In the end, we get to make the handling and safety corrections that these modifications require. Routine tire rotation is always essential, even more so when scrub radius and arc of radius get compromised. Once you dial the front end alignment to the best point possible, watch for ball-joint wear, wheel bearing or hub bearing wear and any tire issues. This can sometimes be the price for a lift and oversized tires. We can, however, reduce, minimize or even eliminate that risk and expense!
Posted by Moses Ludel on 13 November 2014 - 09:55 AM
Wow, very low mileage on this one, KeriOkie! For a Cummins Ram truck, this is a great find, barely broken-in! I looked at the pics. Other than color, you have essentially the same truck we bought new as an '05 model ten years ago.
If the truck is bone stock and you're after mileage, your "new" Ram 3500 is in the best form it will ever be. With the 48RE automatic and 3.73 axle gearing, if you run the engine between 1600 and 1900 rpm, you will gain maximum fuel efficiency. As others like Megatron note, don't do heavy throttle dead starts or hold the transmission in lower gears under high rpm sprints. Running empty, using mild throttle at this rpm range can yield 23-24 mpg if that's your aim.
I have recommended engine tune reprogramming for modified and weightier models that have already gone over the cliff with fuel efficiency losses. For stone stock gearing, stock tire size, no lift or colossal add-ons, Chrysler had this truck dialed for fuel efficiency in stock form. Yes, the Hypertech 'Max Energy' programmer bumps up horsepower and torque but at a higher rpm (2100 rpm torque peak instead of 1600). If you experiment with this approach, there is a high, mild and stock performance setting. Megatron talks about a programmer that has push-button settings, which would be handier than the software "reprogramming" necessary to change modes with the Hypertech setup.
Try driving the truck as-is and enjoy it for a bit before considering any modifications or changes. Assuming it has stock engine programming now, you're in business for power and fuel efficiency within the 1600-1900 rpm range. For fuel efficiency, the closer to 1600 rpm, the better! My very best mileage when stone stock without a load was 25 mpg, done over a 500-plus mile test (Reno, Nevada to Portland, Oregon) with varied road and load conditions, driving mostly between 1600-1800 rpm.
All of us need to keep in mind that extracting latent horsepower and torque from a turbo-diesel like the ISB Cummins comes at a price: heat and fuel consumption. If we boost horsepower or torque and stay in the throttle to realize these gains under severe loads, the result is engine-killing heat and huge losses in fuel efficiency. If you intend to push an ISB Cummins diesel, I heartily recommend a pyrometer, installed pre-turbo in the exhaust manifold (without leaving drill or tap debris in the manifold!) to monitor maximum exhaust manifold temperatures! Apply less right foot pressure to lower temperatures.
Keep us posted on this gem of a find!
Posted by Moses Ludel on 28 June 2013 - 05:26 PM
Thanks for catching this post...It's among my favorite subjects, as you might have guessed...
Once the axle gearing is correct, the other factors that drop fuel mileage on your '06 Ram 3500 Cummins would be 1) the increased vehicle height (kiss off aerodynamics of any kind!) and 2) the vehicle's weight over stock. I wound up in a similar situation with a 4" lift, 35" tires and a carload of "cool" accessories! Not sure of your accessories, I added approximately 1,350 pounds to my over-the-road, "unloaded" weight...kind of like perpetually pulling a well equipped tent trailer!
Hey, we all like the "look" and utility of a lifted and accessorized Ram 3500 4x4! Here, the truck we purchased new in October 2004 is undergoing a metamorphosis in 2011, getting ready for show time at the BFGoodrich Tires booth, Off-Road Expo at Pomona, CA! Let's see now, the lift, wheels and 35" tires, we'll add a utility fuel tank that takes us to Moab, Utah and back from the Reno, Nevada area...and that M12000 Warn winch will be a dandy when needed! Oops, there went the 25 mpg. Time for a 4.56:1 axle gear change out!
(Can't see the photos? Join our free forums and get the full benefits of membership!)
Most have no idea how quickly the upgrades and accessory weight add up: Try oversized American Eagle wheels and BFG tires for at least 150# over stock including the spare; a Mopar lift kit after swapping out OEM parts for an added 50 pounds; a Warn M12000 winch for 140# (bare winch wound with wire rope); front and rear HD bumpers for an extra 300#; a Transfer Flow cross bed fuel tank with additional fuel on board: 75 gallons @ 7.1 lb/gallon for Low Sulphur diesel = 532.5 pounds when full plus the aluminized steel tank's weight! Oh, and I do like the three Bestop Treksteps for 60 pounds plus.
I'll comment on your gearing projections, just did the math...If your tire's revolutions per mile are around 560 (Toyo rating for several popular 37" diameter tires, confirm your exact revs per mile), then here are your engine speeds at practical road speeds in overdrive (0.69:1):
4.88 gears @ 70 mph = 2200 engine rpm
4.88 gears @ 65 mph = 2043 engine rpm
4.88 gears @ 55 mph = 1728 engine rpm
4.56 gears @ 70 mph = 2056 engine rpm
4.56 gears @ 65 mph = 1909 engine rpm
4.56 gears @ 55 mph = 1615 engine rpm
According to Cummins, you should use the 4.88:1 gears for a truck under 10000# GVWR and intended for 70 mph cruise. In my experience, though, if fuel mileage were your sole aim without carrying cargo or trailer pulling, I would suggest the 4.56 gearing. This would keep you "in the window" for maximum fuel economy. However, even a light travel trailer would immediately tip the scale toward taxing the engine, which could impact both fuel efficiency and engine life—plus overload the transmission (clutch if manual) and driveline.
Actually, with your 37" tires, the 4.56:1 ratio would be much like your 3.73:1 gears with the Ram 3500's stock tire size. (That was also before accessory add-ons and the lift, too!) In overdrive, that off-the-showroom floor truck fell well below Cummins' recommended 2,150 rpm at 65 mph baseline for fuel efficiency and commercial hauling. I'd again emphasize that 23-25 mpg highway was readily achievable with the stock tires, 3.73 gearing and no load at 65-69 mph (approximately 1800-1950 rpm).
If you pull a trailer very seldom and your add-on accessories weight is modest, fuel efficiency would be good between 55 and 70 mph with 4.56:1 gearing and 37" tires. If the add-ons are like mine, however, your truck has a load before you stack on cargo! The 4.56:1 gearing would not be low enough, you'd be better off with the 4.88:1 gears.
Note: This is why I opted for 4.56:1 with the 35" tires, rather than fiddle with 4.10:1, which would have been the direct correction for the bigger tires. We plan to pull a trailer on occasion—without destroying the powertrain. Also, as I've shared, between the lift height and added accessories weight, this is not the stock truck any more.
Your decision comes down to load and intended cruising speed. Considering the height and weight of your Ram 3500 Mega Cab, you'd likely be "happier", performance wise, with 4.88 gears. When you want fuel efficiency, hold the speed to 65 mph. If that's too slow and you want to "cruise" at 70-plus mph yet get the best fuel efficiency for that rate of speed, consider 4.56:1 axle gearing. You can see by the calculations that the engine would be in Cummins' recommended zone of 2100-2400 rpm when cruising at 72 mph (2114 engine rpm) with 4.56:1 gears in overdrive. With 4.88:1 gears at 72 mph in overdrive, the engine would spin 2263 rpm and eat up fuel.
Cruise speeds above 65 mph will eat fuel, regardless...Moving as much mass as our trucks at speeds above 65 mph requires increasingly more fuel. Base your choice on what cruise speed you find acceptable on the highway—the faster you go, the more fuel the engine will use...guaranteed!
The acceleration might be marginally better with 4.88:1 gears. In terms of gear stamina with a given ring gear size (11.5" and 9.25" in our case), the 4.56 gears are actually stronger due to the larger pinion gear head size. (This is slightly offset by the 4.88:1 additional gear reduction, which helps reduce load a bit.) Given our Ram 3500 ring gear sizes, the stamina distinction is not as severe—nothing like sticking 4.88:1 gears in a Dana 35 Jeep rear axle with a 7.625" diameter ring gear!
We can kick this around more, Megatron. Cummins recommends spinning the engine for "efficiency" and, at least commercially, does not want to "lug" the engine below 1900 rpm at highway cruising speeds. Note that a truck under 10000# GVWR with an H.O. 5.9L Cummins ISB engine is less susceptible to lugging than a Cummins ISB engine in a medium-duty truck.
If you're running an aftermarket performance module or "chip", or have done any other tuning or engine modifications, we need to discuss those variables, too...That could change the rpm scale for maximum performance and fuel efficiency, in turn shifting the rpm band for the gearing.
Posted by elinamaria on 12 February 2014 - 02:37 AM
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Posted by forman on 04 February 2014 - 07:55 PM
Hey I enjoyed the compressor story!
Today I was able to start disassembling the transfer case I followed your procedure and took some photos.
The impact driver worked great on the yoke nuts and to be honest most of what I disassembled today was very easily done. I have to admit once I learned the new to me transfer case nomenclature it went very well, I'm having fun.
I noticed that the intermediate shaft had some wear, I could feel where the gears rode on the shaft. The gear teeth that I can see so far aren't showing any sign of wear I hope some of the photos will show.
In the first photo the bushing on the left looks rough on the outside.
Posted by Hendogg on 18 December 2014 - 12:08 PM
Posted by Hendogg on 18 December 2014 - 12:00 PM
Posted by JanetBrown on 17 December 2014 - 11:35 AM
Great news. I wonder if Jeep will order a job lot? Already had a tweet from Tow Trust, how does that even work? Will have to ask the kids.
Hope new towbar has a big union jack sticker visible on it. Cheers guys. Merry Christmas.
If not a big union jack I hope that Tow Trust will provide/sell some very large stickers/decals that we can put on our cars to support them and to thank them for their help in this.
As I have said elsewhere however, I am concerned that if we all buy from Tow Trust direct ourselves, will this not disincentivise Fiat from providing them free of charge to those who are affected, especially those who do not have the funds to purchase and fit.
I do not in any way mean to offend, especially those who have gone so far in helping us sort this out. I merely want to ensure that Fiat takes full responsibility for the situation that we have, through no fault of our own, found ourselves in. IMHO Fiat should be ordering these from Tow Trust and fitting them for us, or even better paying Tow Trust to supply and fit these. Even though I have had no dealings with Tow Trust I would trust them to do a better job that the stealerships.
Posted by Laney on 17 December 2014 - 08:26 AM
Posted by smokes3456 on 16 December 2014 - 11:08 AM
Posted by paul on 13 December 2014 - 11:12 AM
hi Not sure of whos expense as yet but its a step in the right direction and it will be legal.......the jeep at present has little value oN the open market and anything that will get the vehicle back to towing for me has to be checked. My jeep has only done 40,000 miles and is in mint condition ,it will be cheaper even if we have to pay than replacing it.Looking at Janet reply (latest) it appears jeep are looking into a replacement bar ...makes you think does it not.....With mine going for fitment check....................
WILL BE BACK WITH MORE NEWS AS I GET IT CHEERS EVERYONE ...
JEEP I THINK ARE FEELING THE PRESSURE
STAY WITH IT .WE ARE MOVING IN RIGHT DIRECTION
Posted by JanetBrown on 13 December 2014 - 05:56 AM
Posted by paul on 12 December 2014 - 11:47 PM
hi all...back again with YES additional good news ..i taking my cherokee in next week for fitting check of a NEW MK2 tow-bar and if successful it will go for testing and saftey appoval,again i am at this stage unable to release who is going to do ths, please again bear with me we are all a bit closer to getting a legel way out and DON`T GIVE UP ....Again this news is getting better for all of us ...we may all have a new year wish ....hi hi..
Keep reading and adding your comments ..................I will report back next week as to how Iit goes
BEST WISHES Paul
Posted by Moses Ludel on 12 December 2014 - 06:17 AM
The main concerns when starting a diesel engine in cold temperatures are oil viscosity and the stress on crankshaft bearings. In the lifespan of a properly maintained engine, over 95% of the engine's bearing wear will be attributed to cranking and start-up. This applies to both diesel and gasoline engines. Any reduction in start-up stresses and loads will extend engine life and performance. Your oil choice is a good place to begin.
In recent years, there have been several breakthroughs in oil development. Since viscosity choices must match the climate, the latest crop of "winter" oils from major commercial oil producers is noteworthy. I've been running 15W-40 Delo 400 year round in the '05 Dodge Ram Cummins 5.9L, and the engine uses negligible oil between changes. (The most that's ever been consumed was 1/2-quart in a 5,000 mile change cycle that included towing an 8,000# trailer up I-8's long 6% grades from San Diego to Anza-Borrego and back.) The engine does not leak, a major tribute to modern design seals at the crankshaft and timing cover. Oil pressure has always been respectable and remains the same today as when the Ram 3500 left the dealership lot over 140K miles ago.
I have recently considered changing to 5W-40 Delo 400 or equivalent diesel oil for winter protection. Rotella, Ursa, Delvac and Delo are each excellent commercial/fleet products. I would run this oil year round. The 5W cold flow can dramatically reduce cranking stresses on start-up when the truck parks away from its block heater in the winter. Delo in this viscosity is a synthetic base formulation, which does increase the cost. Here's a link to Delo oil products. Note that Texaco's "Ursa" label is also in the listed oil offerings:
Short drives with a diesel, in the winter especially, are torture. My office is around two miles from the I-80 onramps. In the winter, when below 45 degrees F, if I'm headed to Reno on a cold day, I can be three miles down the interstate before the engine reaches full operating temperature...and that's with the block heater plugged in the night before! I rely on the additional 27 miles of interstate cruise to disperse the cold start/warm-up diesel fuel particulates in the crankcase.
Note: We get plenty of sub-freezing weather in the winter, and I always use the factory block heater before a planned trip, allowing 12 hours or so of coolant warming before start-up. I installed a block heater on the 4.0L Jeep Cherokee gasoline engine and use that heater every night in the winter, as this is our daily driver. A block heater is a must for any diesel vehicle parked outside. 45 degrees F is my magic temperature for plugging-in the block heater before a run. With a switch to 5W-40 oil, I might change the block heater plug-in to freezing temperatures—or maybe keep with the 45 degrees F practice. The heater works nicely with the block warmed first!
I also use a battery maintenance device nightly in the winter. On the Ram truck that parks for extended periods, the device remains connected continuously. A Battery Tender or CTEK charger works fine for this purpose. The CTEK has many additional features. For more information on the CTEK charger, here is the link to my article and HD video on the CTEK: http://www.4wdmechan...nd-Storage.html.
Note: A Battery Tender has kept the OEM Mopar batteries in good condition since we purchased the Ram 3500 new, and that was 10 years ago! I attribute this to the battery maintenance device, which stays on when the truck parks in the winter or even in the summer if the vehicle will set for some time. The new CTEK charger has a Reconditioning de-sulfate function that I will try on these two batteries, disconnecting their cables first and isolating each battery. 10 years of service is remarkable life for diesel batteries!
These measures provide the least load on the engine at start-up and provide the best method for getting oil to critical bearing parts. If your Dodge Ram Cummins parks in a cold climate, consider use of the block heater and battery maintenance device. Select the right viscosity oil for your climate and driving demands.
Posted by Moses Ludel on 11 December 2014 - 06:30 PM
Megatron, I always enjoy your topic posts and replies, many members and guests benefit from your valuable and thoughtful questions! This question begs attention...
First off, let's address engine loads for a moment and the role of motor oil. Oil maintains a lubricating film and barrier to parts friction, in particular metal-on-metal parts like flat tappet lifters against the lobes of a camshaft. To put this into perspective, the load on a moving engine part is measured in pounds-per-square inch of actual contact between the parts. It just so happens that the base of a new flat tappet lifter (solid or hydraulic) is convex, not flat. This means that the contact surface between the lifter base and camshaft lobe is far less than the lobe's width. Actually, the contact point is relatively small.
The lifter has a big job to do, raising the pushrod and rocker arm to compress the valve spring(s) under great force. Coupled with the relatively small and convex contact point between the flat tappet lifter base and the camshaft lobe, the lifter base's pounds per square inch (psi) load is extreme when the valve spring is compressed. How extreme? According to a Sealed Power reference that I've quoted since the 1980s, the psi load at the contact point between the lifter's convex base and the camshaft lobe is equal to the "weight of a locomotive".
Sealed Power tossed out the figure 233,000 pounds per square inch of force. Today online, you will find consistent references from 140,000-240,000 psi. For curious motorheads, this figure would be governed by the valve lift (height) and the valve spring tension when the spring(s) compress at full valve lift. The rocker ratio also fits into this relationship and load calculation.
So, given this extreme load, which Sealed Power indicated flatly as the highest singular load within an engine, imagine the demand on engine oil. We all know what metal-on-metal will do, and the oil has to keep the lifters from destroying the camshaft lobes. It's easy to understand how a GM epidemic of flat tappet camshaft failures on small-block V-8s in the 1970s and early '80s led to the added expense of using roller lifters in these "emission" small-block engines by 1986. Roller lifters became cost effective in the long run...They also reduce friction and valvetrain stresses.
To protect this metal-to-metal contact, engine oil must provide a strong film and act as an anti-friction agent. For those unfamiliar with engine plain bearings like rod and main inserts, these parts do not ride on the crankshaft—they ride on a pressure-supplied oil film between the bearings and crankshaft journals. It's not the oil pressure that keeps these parts separated, either. Pressurized oil simply provides a continuous supply of oil that keeps the bearing's clearance space filled with oil.
It's the oil itself that keeps these parts separated. In the case of a lifter, the oil that splashes or sprays onto the lobe and lifter base simply coats these parts. The oil's film strength and sheer resistance keep these metal parts separated to prevent the pieces from tearing each other apart.
Historically, the best additive for protection has been zinc. To put zinc's importance into perspective, when I wrote the Harley-Davidson Evolution V-Twin Owner's Bible (Bentley Publishers), my penchant for the virtues of Mobil 1 and other synthetic oils hit the wall. In talking with H-D tech experts and asking whether my Mobil 1 mantra would work in this book, as it did in the Jeep and light truck books, they flatly said, "No!"
Why? Because the recommended oil for these air-cooled, arguably Stone Age derivative engines had to have one particular ingredient: zinc. Harley-Davidson's own proprietary label engine oil had more zinc at the time (1997 timeframe) than any other oil available. This oil was "legal" and regulated to a lesser degree because of the lower volume sales of motorcycles. Though zinc was on the EPA radar screen then, total elimination of zinc from all motor oils only came recently.
So, this takes us to your current dilemma. To be blunt, zinc additive or your camshaft manufacturer's recommended additive package must be added to the crankcase of any engine that is breaking-in a flat tappet camshaft...Some say that you should continue to run a zinc additive or zinc content motor oil even after break-in.
For those unfamiliar with break-in, the most crucial break-in consideration in an engine is the camshaft lobes to its lifters, rocker arms or followers. It takes real negligence to keep piston rings from seating, something like pressing the engine repeatedly to redline with few miles on the odometer. (This causes cylinder walls and piston rings to glaze before the rings can seat.) As you might guess by now, it takes only one good engine dynamometer run to ruin a flat tappet camshaft and set of lifters if not properly broken-in—which includes the use of proper oil additives.
There have been several breakthroughs in oil development in recent years. While I once swore by the virtues of more costly synthetic oils, I now find myself at Costco buying cases of Chevron Supreme motor oil with Iso-Syn formulation. Our Jeep 4.0L inline six, which happens to have a flat tappet hydraulic camshaft as OEM equipment, thrives on this oil.
Why? Because the key difference between a synthetic oil and a petroleum oil used to be the high volatility molecules found in traditional petroleum based oil. Iso-Syn formulation is a petroleum oil with lower volatility molecules throughout, and this means it behaves like a synthetic oil. Certainly good enough for a 150,000 mile gasoline engine in a vehicle we purchased used at 94,000 miles with a history of running who knows what oil. The additive packages in Iso-Syn Chevron products are ample. This engine gets adequate protection at 1/3 the cost of a quality synthetic oil.
This same Iso-Syn formulation oil is available in the LE ("Low Emissions") Delo 400. I began my relationship with diesels and Delo 400 in the mid-'seventies as a heavy equipment operator, working out of Local 3, Operating Engineers. On a road job, the I-80 bypass of Winnemucca, Nevada that moved 1.6M yards of earth fill and realigned a section of the Humboldt River, S.J. Groves from Minneapolis had the contract. They brought a wide range of Caterpillar equipment to the job.
I worked a combined swing-graveyard (10-hour) shift from September until the job shut down in mid-December. (An 8 below zero front with a 30 mph wind froze the wetted fill before compaction.) Over those months, I saw boxcar loads of Chevron lubricants and anti-freeze pulled onto the Winnemucca siding. Prominent in this extreme weather (same cold as the Alaska pipeline job without the benefit of closed cabs or reverse fans on the engines) was the exclusive use of Delo motor oil.
Your penchant for Shell's Rotella has a basis, too. This is a great oil, just ask any over-the-road trucker. Prior to the recent, draconian measure to eliminate zinc from engine oils, each of these two diesel oils were all you needed to know. Now, especially with a fresh camshaft and lifters, you need to get a zinc additive for breaking in that flat tappet camshaft and lifters!
Note: Roller lifters would eliminate much of this concern, and presumably the EPA must presume that most current engines have roller lifters or equivalent. A roller lifter or roller camshaft follower, unlike a flat tappet with its necessary convex base, will distribute the load across the lifter and reduce friction with the roller bearing.
When I installed the new Stage 1 Hot Cams camshaft in the Honda XR650R motorcycle engine, despite the wide rocker arm contact surface at the camshaft (more like a roller's width), I raced off to find a suitable "break-in" additive for the camshaft. I added Lucas Break-in Engine Oil Additive with Zinc-Plus™. This additive remains in an automotive engine for 1,000 miles—more like 250-500 miles in an enduro motorcycle engine. If you're big on draining oil shortly after rebuilding an engine, you would need to reuse this additive until the 1,000 miles accrues. I like to change the oil filter right after the initial engine warm-up following a rebuild. This requires top-off of the oil. Add a proportionate amount of zinc oil additive.
Moral of the story: Do not run that fresh camshaft and lifters without a zinc additive during break-in! After that, Rotella would work just fine, in fact it is rumored that Rotella has a better additive package than most diesel oils.
Chevron Delo 400 and Shell Rotella are good products. Texaco Ursa had a large following, though I'm not sure if Ursa is still readily available. Mobil Delvac is another quality brand. Notice that I'm not suggesting synthetic oils, though many still swear by them. Before the first oil change on our Dodge Ram 3500, the Cummins 5.9L engine had established its permanent oil color: black. Synthetic oil in a diesel is a questionable investment.
As for viscosity and climates, the latest crop of "winter" oils from each of these major commercial oil producers has my attention. I've been running 15W-40 Delo 400 year round, and the engine uses negligible if any oil. (The most that's ever been consumed was 1/2-quart in a 5,000 mile change cycle that included towing an 8,000# trailer up I-8's long 6% grades from San Diego to Anza-Borrego and back.) The engine does not leak, a major tribute to late seals at the crankshaft and timing cover. Oil pressure has always been respectable and remains the same today as when the Ram 3500 left the dealership lot over 140K miles ago.
I have recently considered changing to 5W-40 Delo 400 or equivalent diesel recommended oil for winter protection, running it year round. That would eliminate cranking stresses on start-up when the truck parks away from its block heater for lengths of time in the winter. Since this is a synthetic base formulation, I may have to eat my words and plunge into the synthetic world of commercial diesel oils. Cha-ching! Here's the link to Delo oil products. Note that Texaco's "Ursa" label is in the listed oil offerings:
As for your short drives with a diesel, you said it, this is torture. My office is around two miles from the I-80 onramps. In the winter, when below 45 degrees F, if I'm headed to Reno on a cold day, I can be three miles down the interstate before the engine reaches full operating temperature...and that's with the block heater plugged in the night before! I rely on the additional 27 miles of interstate cruise to disperse the cold start/warm-up diesel fuel particulates in the crankcase.
Note: We get plenty of sub-freezing weather in the winter, and I always use the factory block heater before a planned trip, allowing 12 hours or so of coolant warming before start-up. I installed a block heater on the 4.0L Jeep Cherokee gasoline engine and use that heater every night, as this is our daily driver. A block heater is a must for any diesel vehicle parked outside. 45 degrees F is my magic temperature for plugging-in the block heater before a run. With a switch to 5W-40 oil, I might change the block heater plug-in to freezing temperatures—or maybe keep with the 45 degrees F practice. The heater works nicely with the block warmed first!
On another note, I also use a battery maintenance device nightly in the winter. The Battery Tender or a CTEK charger work fine for this purpose. The CTEK has many additional features. The Battery Tender has kept the OEM Mopar batteries in good condition since we purchased the Ram 3500 new, and that was 10 years ago! I attribute this to the battery maintenance device, which stays on when the truck parks in the winter or in the summer if the vehicle will set for some time.
Do the zinc oil additive during the current camshaft and lifter break-in. After that, your choice of engine oil is up for grabs. My preference as an equipment operator "hand" is still the mainstay commercial/fleet diesel oils that carry the off-highway construction equipment and 18-wheeler truck engines over their extreme lifespans.
Trust this helps...
Posted by MikeK on 08 December 2014 - 08:00 AM
Further to the above, I have more information that may be of interest.
Many towbar manufacturers have removed this vehicle from their listings, however, some are still listing it.
One in particular, that have a good name, I sent an email to as follows...
"I have a '56' Jeep Cherokee Sport 2.8 CRD
I see you list a flanged towbar available, from yourselevs, that is suitable for this vehicle.
In view of the current ongoing problems, with the Jeep/VOSA safety recall on these vehicles, and so many failing on towbar to fuel tank clearance, can you confirm that your towbar does meet all of the requirements and gives at least 42mm clearance from the fuel tank?
If this is the case, there are a lot of people, in the UK like myself, that may be very interested in continuing to be able to tow with our vehicles."
I have received a response, within half an hour, it reads as follows...
The tow bar meets the EC/94/20 reg 55 spec which is current for tow bar legislation on this vehicle. This spec was given by Jeep for the original approval; until Jeep re-issues a new spec for the tow bar which can be verified by the V.C.A. we are not able to confirm if the bar is acceptable or not as the gap you speak of was not mentioned in the original approval. It is illegal for us to change the bar in any way without invalidating its type approval which would mean that we could no longer sell the tow bar. So until Jeep officially makes a notification of change we can only continue to sell the tow bar in its current form.
Since Jeep gave the original specification for the bar it is unlikely that they will now change it due to the costs involved in compensation to the various tow bar manufacturers concerning the thousands of product that have distributed by the tow bar industry, we believe this is why the “recall” is on a voluntary basis.
As of this moment we are still awaiting communication from Jeep Europe concerning our request for information, the matter has also been passed to the V.C.A. who is the governing body of the tow bar industry.
Sorry it is a vague answer but as stated previously we are unable to change anything on the tow bar without clarification from Jeep."
So it appears, as expected, that the problem is solely Jeep.
Furthermore it is quite clear that ANY towbars, currently on offer for this vehicle, are offered without any guarantee that they will meet this 'magic' 42mm clearance requirement.
The remaining companies listing them will still supply, BUT there is no way that they will fit for you - too much liability.
Posted by Moses Ludel on 16 November 2014 - 01:13 PM
That does look like confirmation, Janet. If so, Chrysler and UK VOSA need to work out a safety solution similar to the U.S. NHTSA agreement. The U.S. solution is installation of a Mopar rated and functional tow hitch, which forum member "belvedere" and others have described. The tow hitch solution is the N46 recall agreement between Chrysler and U.S. NHTSA. The Mopar tow hitch solution for the UK should be rated to comply with the Jeep KJ tow capacity as recommended by Chrysler.
If non-towing KJ owners want to opt for the cross brace installation instead of the tow hitch (i.e., they don't want a tow hitch for some reason), that could be part of the UK agreement. Owners who do want a tow hitch could have the Mopar tow hitch installed to comply with the safety recall and use their vehicle for towing if desired. Upon resale of the vehicle, if the KJ has a cross-brace in place and the new owner wants the approved Mopar tow hitch, the tow hitch could be retrofitted (at the new owner's expense) and meet the safety requirement.
Posted by paul on 14 November 2014 - 07:52 PM
hi all again well janet is slowly getting somewhere. I have been down a different path and have also spoken this week to VOSA and to TOWTRUST tow bars. The managing director of towtrust has also spoken to VOSA and has got some measurements from somewhere to enable him to look at a NEW towbar for the kj .He is fully aware of the kj owners plight to date and appears to have taken it all on board .He is going to keep me updated on the issue .He is on vacation till the 1st dec but assures me that he will on his return look at the problem with a view to possible production of a new bar. All i can say at this point is this may be a lifeline to us all and at least we have someone who is trying to help which at this point is more than jeep has. I will keep you all updated as i get additional imformation.Tonight I received a phone call from Jeep Italy asking me to take part in a customer survey, which i found to be very funny indeed. I cannot repeat what i said to them on here but i think that someone got the message there. I don`t expect them to ring again. I am now going to wait on TOW-TRUST and also keep reading here.
p.s.: keep up the good work Janet!
Posted by biggman100 on 13 November 2014 - 07:00 AM