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!
- Moses Ludel and Rollbar like this
Jump to content
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
Owner: biggman100Added: 22 September 2013 - 05:22 PM
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 Hendogg on 18 December 2014 - 12:00 PM
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
i bought a few products from garageworkshop.com.au -- it also provides best services in australia ..
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 Moses Ludel on Yesterday, 09:04 AM
Brett...I understand your approach. Am still questioning whether simply bumping fuel pressure against the regulator will break through vapor lock unless there is a return of fuel to the tank in the process.
Respecting your intentions here, you will find the factory wiring for the fuel pump and ECU below. Pay close attention to whether leads are positive source or negative source. ECU and PCM leads often furnish the ground (not the "hot" or positive current) to devices that are KEY ON powered. The ECU may be the ground source for a D.C. device, and the device has continual (KEY ON) 12VDC power that needs a ground for the device to operate. Know whether leads are negative or positive before splicing and using your manual switch:
Jeep YJ 2.5L TBI Fuel Pump Wiring Diagram.pdf 2.89MB 3 downloads
[Schematic #9 is at end of sequence.]
Note that you can either pull from the pin at the ECU or tap into the wiring to the pump power lead directly if desired. All of this is color coded for identifying wires...The ECU lead to the pump itself could be a splice. I'd advise use of a fuse and an inline relay between your manual switch and the pump lead. You can source voltage from the ignition circuit to the inline relay if you want "KEY ON" (only) for your manual switch power. Or, if you want to power the pump without activating the key, you can use a direct battery power source to power the pump via the manual switch, fuse and inline relay. This would allow priming with the KEY OFF and ECU off as well. Make sure you turn off the manual pump switch after priming!
Look over the PDF schematics. It's not complicated. I'd prefer splicing away from the ECU, the ECU is less accessible than the pump wires. With some thought, you can make this work without a lot of fanfare. You're simply trying to complete the power circuit to the fuel pump via your manual switch. Make sure voltage does not feed back to the ECU and damage it. Isolate the switch signal with a relay and a separate power supply source if necessary. A common "Bosch"-type relay can be used to either complete a power (+) circuit or a ground (-) circuit.
Let us know how this works. If you need clarification on the current flow, please ask.
Posted by Moses Ludel on 02 July 2015 - 12:40 PM
This is very helpful information, Brett. Curious how triggering the pump with a switch is any different than when you hear the pump running normally?
If this is vapor lock, you need a means for purging the input/pressure fuel line and TBI unit. The fuel is stopped against the regulator. If you're experiencing vapor lock, and it does sound like that's what is going on here, this is like a fuel bowl in a carburetor, and either the bowl or the input line is hot, causing fuel percolation and vapor lock. Keep in mind that vapor lock may not be at the engine, it could be anywhere from the tank to the TBI unit if there is sufficient heat near the fuel lines. The pump pressure does sound normal, and if there is no restriction in the return to tank flow, and if the pump is cycling on, the system should be functioning okay.
A true cure might be a manually switched bleed from the test port on the TBI unit to the tank return line. Using a manual (electric solenoid) fuel switch, the line would open and drop the TBI pressure to zero. Turning the key on, the OE pump would trigger and flow fresh fuel through the TBI unit that would pass through the custom bleed line. Shut off the manual bleed line valve, and the pressure at the TBI unit would jump to regulated pressure. Experiment with how much fuel should cycle through in order to eliminate the vapor lock condition.
The bleed line would need to "Y" (no restrictions here!) into the return line to the tank, and no fuel would be lost. This bleed directly from the TBI unit would quickly move any hot, stagnated or vaporized fuel. Shut the bleed line's solenoid valve off, and the pressure would promptly build back up at the TBI pressure regulator—with fresh, cooler fuel available.
Caution: The manual switch valve would need to be fuel grade and rated for more than the pump pressure (which is 17-20 PSI rated)—at least 30 PSI would be smart to prevent risk of bleed-off or leakdown when the valve is shut off. (Unless you use a 100 PSI rated solenoid switch, do not pinch the return line with the solenoid switch is place—pressure can spike quite high! Remove the bleed line and switch when performing a return line pinch test or testing fuel pressure at the TBI unit.) When the manually switched valve is shut off, there should be no pressure loss at the TBI unit.
I'd look at the Summit Racing catalog for ideas on a fuel cut-off solenoid. Use EFI rated hose and Euro style EFI clamps with appropriate gasoline fittings. Actual pressure would be somewhat low if there is no restriction in the return line, and the flow/volume is adequate. I'd still use high pressure EFI hose and avoid heat sources in the routing.
You'd be in charge of the purge cycles via a manual electrical switch at the dash. A brief opening of the bleed line should be enough to eliminate stagnation.
If you decide to do this, there's no need to mess with ECU connectors, pins or the OEM pump triggers...The TBI unit has an accessible test port that could provide fuel flow and purge the system.
Make sense? If so, please share photos and results!
Posted by dbertheau on 23 June 2015 - 10:37 AM
Here's a link to a review...I'm really happy with this tool and would recommend it....
Posted by dbertheau on 23 June 2015 - 10:35 AM
I recently purchased a Steelman Wireless ChassisEAR 97202 to help identify where a noise in my drive train was coming from (2006 dodge ram 2500 cummins 5.9L 4X4 quad cab long bed 48RE auto.) The tool was around $200 on Amazon.
I had a groan/grind noise that occurred when power applied and just before shift from 2nd to 3rd, from 3rd to 4th and in 4th when torque converter locked. Myself and my mechanic agreed that it was rear pinion bearings...around 185,000 miles on bearings. Changed rear pinion bearings and sound was still there. I recently had a 5" aluminum single piece rear drive shaft put on...the mechanic said that the noise was probably the large drive shaft acting as a megaphone and may not be an issue?????
I ordered the ChassisEAR to help diagnose the noise. When I received the tool I connected sensors to a number of areas...rear differential, output shaft area of the transfer case, middle of the transfer case and output shaft area on the transmission.
For the most part all sensors were quiet except the middle of the transfer case sensor. Could clearly hear a stretched chain slapping around and especially when the high speed load situation occurred.
Wish I would have used the ChassisEAR first, before replacing the pinion bearings...actually, I'm fine with preventative maintenance and bearings had 185,000 miles, so no big deal.
I'm extremely happy with this new tool and would highly recommend it....
Posted by Moses Ludel on 23 June 2015 - 08:10 AM
Megatron...Thought I'd throw some details into the discussion. My Steelman ChassisEAR kit has been a prized possession among my tools for well over a decade. I do not use it often, as you can see from the photo, but when one needs it, the tool is very valuable for multi-channel sound troubleshooting. It can be used with clips on various components or with a metal direct probe pickup. The multi-channels allow comparing noise levels at different locations, which helps distinguish noise sources and allows for decibel level comparisons.
Unlike a stethoscope, ChassisEAR does not pick up transmitted or migrating noise, and you can set the sensitivity closely to narrow down the source. For valvetrain or our Cummins engine noise outputs, sensitivity settings must be very low, or the channels will override each other.
With long cords on the clips, you can drive down the road and listen to chassis, wheel/brake and driveline noises. This is what Dave is doing.
Dave likely has details to add from his experience with the Steelman ChassisEAR. It certainly has its place among professional diagnostics tools and is popular as an OE service department troubleshooting device for warranty work.
Posted by dbertheau on 17 June 2015 - 08:12 PM
I attached a ChassisEAR sensor to a number of places this evening. I think I have determined the problem. No noise on the differential, a little noise on the transfer case near the drive shaft, a ton of noise towards the middle of the transfer case. I'm pretty sure I can hear a stretched out chain in the transfer case slapping around...and most definitely slapping around at the same time that I can hear the noise that I described earlier.
Tomorrow I'll bring to the mechanic and have them take apart the transfer case...probably a rebuild is in order anyway with 185,000 miles...
Thanks for your help.
Posted by dbertheau on 17 June 2015 - 09:50 AM
Thanks for your replies, Moses and Dustin.
Truck is not lifted. Around 185,000 miles. I do have an Edge Juice with Attitude. However, I am very easy on the truck. I generally have it on level 3-Drive. I have a truck camper and when it's on the back of the truck I set the level to 2-Tow. Again, am very gentle with the truck...never push the pedal hard or go wide open throttle.
I started to pay close attention to vibrations/sounds when I installed the new driveshaft around 1,500 miles ago. That's the first time I heard the noise, but, it is possible the noise was there before.
I have the old driveshaft and am going to swap out to see if the noise is still there and/or as loud.
I also ordered a wireless Steelman ChassisEAR http://www.steelmant...chassisear.html . I'll put the clips/sensors on the differential near the pinion bearing, on the transfer case output shaft close to the bearing, etc,...to see if I can determine where the sound is coming from.
I do lock the hubs for a few miles once a month or so just to be sure front u-joints, differential and transfer case stay lubed, etc....
I'll let you know what I find out next week when I use the ChassisEAR.
Posted by Moses Ludel on 12 June 2015 - 07:42 PM
Monty, the engine's fuel pressure and injector systems have a number of prospects for excessive fuel delivery. Here are details on both fuel delivery and the injector system for the 2005 Dodge Ram Cummins 5.9L with "late style" injection:
2005 Dodge Ram 5.9L Cummins Fuel Delivery at the Engine.pdf 356.73KB 7 downloads
2005 Dodge Ram 5.9L Cummins Fuel Injection.pdf 442.48KB 6 downloads
There should be a number of clues here. This and Megatron's comments will be useful to diagnosing and pinpointing your fuel consumption issue.
Let us know what you turn up...
Posted by Moses Ludel on 28 May 2015 - 03:47 PM
Megatron...Pleased to get your feedback and comments. No downside whatsoever with Max-Tane. The pipe is still clean as the final mix dwindles. I would surely consider a regimen of this product and look forward to testing it further when my gearing aligns better with the Cummins 5.9L power dynamics.
On that note, I had an insightful conversation with a diesel friend who noted that increased rpm requires more boost. Boost means fuel stuffing and burn, presumably. What is your experience around the variables of rpm, boost and fuel burn? You've made many improvements in the Cummins engine and turbo functions, how is fuel flow and consumption impacted by the single factor of rpm?
This is a somewhat awkward question since my low gearing (4.56/high numerically) also decreases engine load. I'm curious about the relationship of rpm and boost to fuel stuffing and mileage.
New topic thread here?
Posted by Moses Ludel on 19 May 2015 - 08:22 AM
Jeff...Stock diameter tires would restore the gearing if you have not "lifted" the chassis to fit the 33" tires. Simpler than a gear change.
Review fellow forum member Megatron's lengthy contributions on engine and transmission building for the 5.9L Cummins and the 48RE. Megatron has very thoughtful and helpful upgrade suggestions, including chassis (steering), engine and transmission alternatives. He does take a no holds barred approach. If that's too costly or more than your budget can bear, consider gearing.
I'm studying the Gear Vendors overdrive option and doing the math on how long it would take to pay for (amortize) this accessory via fuel savings and powertrain load reduction. Gearing is the one area that can alleviate both fuel efficiency and powertrain load issues...The Cummins ISB engines are highly susceptible to rpm and turbo boost changes when it comes to fuel efficiency and pulling power. The 48RE needs as much relief as you can offer it. Megatron is running the ultimate aftermarket 48RE build, you might want to see what it takes to reach a high level of reliability with the 48RE. I'd emphasize that "normal" use has my relatively stock 48RE working very nicely at 140K miles. I did do survival upgrades with some pieces from Sonnax. See my article at: http://www.4wdmechan...nsmissions.html.
Check out the Megatron posts here at the forums, our exchanges have been an in-depth discussion of a truck just like yours!
We can discuss other options as well. Input from other Cummins ISB enthusiasts is welcome!
Posted by Moses Ludel on 14 May 2015 - 03:37 PM
I just completed a test cycle with Royal Purple's Max-Tane booster for diesel engines. The magazine's Dodge Ram 3500 4x4 Quad Cab has nearly 140K miles on its odometer now, and the common rail injector system has never required service. The turbocharger has also been trouble-free. With regular preventive maintenance, fuel filter changes and periodic use of gDiesel fuel when available, there has never been the need for injection system service.
We have run octane boosters when taking long trips or hauling. This year's run to Moab for the Jeep Safari plus two subsequent trips to Southern California seemed an ample opportunity to test Max-Tane.
Royal Purple states that users can expect several gains from the product. In approximately 5,400 miles of real world driving, we added six (6) 20-ounce cans of Max-Tane to conventional ULSD fuel available in our Western market. This equated to 120 ounces of additive for 300 gallons of fuel. The safe maximum usage calls for one ounce of Max-Tane for each two gallons of fuel, so we leaned toward the maximum to produce the best overall benefits. For the first part of the testing, including the round trip to Moab and nearly 2,000 miles of driving, the additive was at peak ratio.
Categorically, these were our findings:
1) The engine's performance was more responsive, with noticeable increases in acceleration and overall throttle response. Throttle was "lighter" at cruise.
2) Fuel mileage was slightly improved. This was not surprising with 4.56 gears and 34.5" diameter tires, as the engine is operating beyond its optimal rpm range at internet cruise speeds. Minimal mileage gains were expected. Testing revealed a mileage increase of 4%-5%. This would likely improve with proper final drive gearing, and we would gladly review the product further after either changing to 4.10 gears or installing an aftermarket overdrive.
3) This engine has always started well. The cold start was immediate, regardless of ambient temperature.
4) Parked overnight in cold weather did not present issues.
5) Tailpipe smoke was reduced dramatically. Upon hard acceleration, there was an absence of the usual black smoke, and this 2005 chassis neither requires nor has a catalytic converter. The tailpipe output has been visibly cleaner under all driving conditions. Worth noting, though, we did not pull a hefty trailer during these tests. In a future test, I would like to check the tailpipe emissions under heavier loads.
Overall, this "six-pack" of Royal Purple provided a major cleaning of the top-engine and noticeable reduction in tailpipe pollutants and visible smoke. The performance was tops, it was obvious that the cetane level improved measurably. I would highly recommend this product for "tuning" a diesel engine. The top-engine, valves, fuel system and injectors clearly benefited from the use of Royal Purple Max-Tane.
I'm glad we serviced the engine at this level. Injectors, combustion chambers, valves and the exhaust system need this kind of treatment. The inline six, 24-valve ISB Cummins 5.9L with common rail fuel injection, by design a commercial medium duty truck engine, requires this kind of attention. Savings would be measured in increased engine life, fuel efficiency and less fatigue and wear to critical parts.
Royal Purple's stated gains:
"MAX-TANE PERFORMANCE ADVANTAGES"
Posted by Moses Ludel on 09 May 2015 - 03:50 PM
There is a clear issue with '03-'08 Ram truck steering gears and linkage...Please read the exchange between Megatron and me at: http://forums.4wdmec...ucks/?hl=sector.
If you need advice on how to test your gear for this play, review that article and ask any remaining questions. I'd be glad to respond, Johnny!
Posted by jphw on 05 May 2015 - 08:07 AM
My first ram was a '99 Cummins 2500 4x2 with 100K miles and I drove the truck until 175K miles and sold it. That one was a a reliable and good truck just when I was driving the truck on the highway at 60 m/h the truck wanders its steering and direction all the lane wide and I felt like I was driving a boat on the ocean.
Now, I have a '05 Cummins 2500 4x4 with 75K miles and this is a good truck too. When I drive this truck on the highway at 60 m/h its direction is straight like an arrow just I felt the same wander but in less amount. The steering wheel has 1 1/2" play.
I felt more secure and strong the steering of my '97 Ford Ranger.
The wear of the tires is even on the dodge ram.
So, I started changing parts:
- Lower and Upper Ball Joints
- U- Joints, R and L. I got those Moog with the grease fitting.
- Steering Stabilizer from that factory in Biron Center, MI.
I still feeling the same wander. The truck goes straight but I feel some wander to the left or right and I have to pull back the truck to the center.
Can you please advice to fix the steering problem?