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Found 9 results

  1. Okay, after searching the internet for a few weeks on topics for correctly setting camber and caster on a solid axle front end I have come to a conclusion: Very few people know this answer and of those few that do, very few want to share it. I know the general consensus is to take your vehicle to an alignment shop and kick it in the lobby reading old Car and Driver magazines while they run your car or truck through the paces. In the end, they hand you a paper with + this, - that, drop some terminology on you, you shake your head and agree, plop 60 bucks on the counter and drive away. Well that's fine and dandy on the old Buick Le Sabre, but guys like us with lift kits, oversized wheels and tires and custom front end work, well...not so much. I have yet to find a shop that will entertain the idea of even aligning my truck. I can’t believe that there is no way a DIY can do this at home. Yes it may not be aligned within +/- .0001, but neither is yours after the first pothole you hit leaving the shop. There had to be a way they did alignments before the construction of the modern alignment machine. I believe with some time and effort, a DIY guy can get pretty close if not close enough to get within spec. My questions here are to cover the solid front axle of my '06 Dodge Ram 3500, and I assume this will carry over, in principle, to a lot of other solid axle trucks. To my understanding there are 3 basic adjustments to consider. Camber, caster and toe. Now this leads me to my first set of questions before we even go to these 3 topics. Axle placement under the vehicle. This seems to be a grey area in knowledge on the web so here goes. 1. I have an adjustable track bar that will allow me to adjust my axle left and right in the vehicle. What is the proper way to measure the placement of the front axle so you know it is truly centered under your truck? I have done some simple string lines and measurements and feel mine is good. I just want to get the proper information out in the open so I can verify my work and others can use it if needed. 2. How do you measure your front axle and know it is square with and in the truck? You know, to verify the left tire isn't further forward in the vehicle that the right tire. Now, I have read this is how you would align a solid front axle vehicle to control it veering right or left while driving. Is that true? If so I would still assume you would want to have a zero starting point for making adjustments. I also assume this measurement is probably based off of the rear axle's location in the truck. Well, since I have never had any rear axle damage or any changes done, I assume it is straight and located within spec. Or should we back this whole conversation up and start by confirming the rear axle location and making all other measurements from there?? Well if we make it through this first part I guess we can move onto my camber/caster questions: Camber. I have a basic understanding of how camber and caster is adjusted and how it affects the vehicle so no need to cover that, but feel free to if you want. I also know that with my truck the upper and lower ball joints are fixed and centered. This would lead me to believe that camber on my solid axle front end is at the mercy of the axle caster settings. Without the use of some offset ball joints of course. I recently have upgraded my ball joints to the Carli Suspension ones. Very nice and very well built. During this install is when I noticed my truck had a serious amount of negative caster, which possibly was one of the underlying issues of the poor handling. Well possibly partly lol. Most of the handling issues were poor steering components. That topic is covered by one of the other threads on this forum. Now on to caster. From where on the front axle do you take the measurement for caster? Do you really have to have a special tool or is there more of a DIY approach that can be done? I can’t believe you must have NASA grade tools with Sheldon Cooper knowledge. It’s only a few degrees. If this is possible to do at home what are some others pointers to consider? Should both sides match or is this something that has a "room for error" type thing? Like I mentioned before my truck has a long arm 4 link front end with adjustable links. I can move my front axle front, back, left, right, twisted front, rolled back, in, out you name it, so making caster adjustments should be very easy. Making proper adjustments...well that's why I'm here. Toe adjustment. While this seems to be the simplest one, I believe that it should be last. I figure with the way the knuckle works, if you made any toe adjustments before properly setting caster adjustments, it would be off?? I assume your castor must be set before taking anything else into consideration. Considerations...What are considerations to any of these adjustments and measurements when dealing with oversized wheels, tires and lift kits? To me, I can see an issue with the offset of my wheels and the intersection of the caster angle through the ball joints in correlation to the ground surface and the contact spot of the center of my wheel and tire. I see that instead of my wheel and tire rotating on this centerline I am instead actually arcing around it if you will (if that makes sense). Maybe these things only matter at high speeds, maybe not. I can see the offset being harder on ball joints but that's why I choose Carli. I understand with a lift kit people run into problems because the need to get your pinion angle on the front axle correct to reduce vibrations. Well I have installed a free spin kit with lockouts so pinion angle is not a priority. I am willing to deal with a front end vibration the 2 days out of the year I need 4 wheel drive in exchange for 363 days of correct steering geometry. For others without the free spin kit I can see your need to address this issue differently. I don't know, maybe this is all secret squirrel information, and nobody will share it. I don't deem it rocket science, but I believe it should be done properly. If an alignment shop is the only accepted way to do it, so be it. I just can’t believe that's the case, though. Any input on any of this subject would be appreciated. As always, I know Moses will break it down tech style, and that's fine by me. Attached are a couple pictures of my front end with corrected 4 link angles and new poly joints.
  2. We bought the magazine's 2005 Ram 3500 4WD Quad Cab new in the fall of 2004. The Cummins 5.9L diesel, SRW, short box, 140.5" wheelbase truck has been a joy, maybe even our favorite vehicle ever! At 121K miles, it's just now broken-in, a "keeper" truck that will be in our stable for a long time to come! These models are not without issues, however, among them shorter steering gear life. The change to oversized 35" tires, the weight of the Cummins inline six engine over the front axle, the wider 18" aftermarket wheel rims and a four-inch Mopar suspension lift have helped coax the steering gear to the end of its duty cycle. Actually, considering the history of these power steering gears, I'm feeling good about the mileage we did get from the OEM gear, especially a gear that wrestles with a weighty diesel engine and, from 90K miles onward, the addition of oversized tires! At left is our 2005 Dodge Ram 3500 4WD truck in stock form at 90K miles. The pickup underwent a metamorphosis to its new "look", functionality and show appearance in time for 2011 Off-Road Expo display at the BFG Tires booth. (Click to enlarge photos. Cannot see the photos? Viewing is for members, please join us!) Prior to this year's Moab Jeep Safari, I did a minor adjustment of the steering gear sector to correct for the first signs of wander. You should know that any adjustment other than very slight is always a sign of a fatigued steering gear. I followed the factory adjusting procedure to a good end: safe, controlled steering. A temporary remedy, I'm now getting serious about a long term solution for the steering gear issue... There are a variety of approaches. Mopar has an upgrade steering gear for these models: Mopar Steering Box Upgrade Kit '03-'08 Ram HD, part number 68170214AA. This beefier, direct replacement steering gear box comes with a pitman arm, as the OEM arm will not fit the new, larger sector splines. In my case, this creates a dilemma: The 4" Mopar lift kit on the truck requires a dropped pitman arm. There is no dropped arm available for the upgrade steering gear and this '03-'08 Dodge Ram application. In researching, I discovered that a steering linkage upgrade from Pure Performance works with the stock pitman arm on lifts in the 4"-6" realm. If I use the new Mopar upgrade steering gear, with the replacement (OEM fit) pitman arm, the Pure Performance heavy duty steering linkage will not only fit with the furnished pitman arm, it would also eliminate a second pre-2009 Ram truck issue: the "Y" steering linkage that can contribute to wander and bump steer. I never experienced bump steer with the stock 2005 "Y" steering linkage; even after the 4" lift, which I carefully installed using front end gauges, I've never experienced bump steer. The more recent and slight "wander" has been related to sector play in the original steering gear. There's a "plan" forming, and I want Dodge-Ram forum members to be aware of the inherent steering gear and linkage concerns on 2003-2008 HD 2500 and 3500 trucks...I'm starting this topic while still researching the right solution...I'll keep you posted! Moses
  3. With my '06 Dodge Ram 3500 4x4 and 48RE transmission (Cummins diesel power), I notice when pulling and away and accelerating from a dead stop, like a stop sign, I will get the slightest vibration in the transmission. I assume it to be the clutch plates on the torque converter but not sure if that is right. it only does it from a dead stop and only through a few 100 rpms. it acts like trying to take off with a heavy load on a standard transmission. I compare this to a solid flywheel conversion we did on an older powerstroke ford. to save a few bucks, we ordered the solid flywheel and clutch kit that didn't have the springs in it (like factory). well that was about the worst thing you could have done to that truck when hauling a heavy load. that thing would buck no matter how you feathered the clutch peddle lol. that action is what my truck feels like taking off, just not as violent and very subtle. no matter the tranny temp or load on the hitch. never less and never more. Any ideas?
  4. Ok, this is more a hypothetical than anything else, but especially after some comments Moses made to me in another post, i just wanted to see how feasible it might be. What i am actually looking at is what all would be needed to convert two different dodge trucks to diesel. One of the trucks would be my 1994 Dakota, which, as i have already posted about on here, some of you already know is a 4x4, with a 3.9l v-6. I also had a 1991 dakota that i toyed with the idea of converting to a diesel, mainly for longevity, and ease of maintenance, more than a desire to be able to tow heavier trailers, or anything like that, as i don't think it would be a good idea to go beyond Dodge's recommended trailer towing weights, even with a conversion like that. What i am looking for, as i don't mess with diesels much, is besides the engine and corresponding wiring and electronics, what else would i need for a conversion like that? I know i would need the fuel tank, and associated plumbing as well as the engine and associated components, but, what im not sure of would be things like, does a diesel actually have an ECM? Can a diesel be connected to the existing drivetrain i have, which consists of an AX15 5spd manual, and transfer case, which i wish too keep the 4 wheel drive intact and functional, or would i be better off to upgrade at least the transmission to something heavier duty? Which of the dodge diesels would be the best for a conversion like this, or, what about using a ford or chevy diesel? Are the diesel electronics, like their gas counterparts, separated by OBD1 and OBD2, and if so, what years did they start changing? I did read that the dodge diesel is an inline 6, whereas the ford and chevy diesels are v-8's. Would there be any advantage or disadvantage over an inline versus a v series engine? And lastly, at least for now, will a dodge inline 6 even fit in the dakota? The other truck im thinking of a diesel conversion to is a 1993 extended cab ram 1500. It has a 5.2L in it now, but the engine is pretty much shot from the previous owner not doing any maintenance on it at all for several years, and it is just sitting around for now, while i decide what i really want to do with it. I know this truck originally came optioned with a diesel, so the engine fitting isn't a concern, but the same questions about the dakota, would also apply to this truck. The main difference driveline wise between this and the dakota is that the ram is still 4x4, but has an automatic, instead of manual transmission. I was thinking of sourcing a complete wrecked Ram for the swap, so that i have all the necessary parts, such as exhaust, engine, wiring, ECM, and any other parts i might need.
  5. Hello everyone, I'm glad that I've found such great forum. Guys, I hope that you can help me... In order to save some money on fuel, I'm planing to install the ethanol e85 kit on my 2004 Dodge Ram 1500 and run it on ethanol. One of my friend uses the kit from this French manufacturer (www.ecofuelbox.com) but the problem is they have 4 models and 6 type of connectors, and I'm not sure which kit will fit my Dodge. Can someone tell me? What type of connector do I need for my Dodge Ram ? Regards, David
  6. Hi guys, im looking for some real world experience here. I finally got around to finding out why i have different odd noises in my 94 Dakota, especially in the right front, and left rear, and have found the the upper control arm bushings, and rear spring bushings are bad. I have been weighing whether to use just the standard OEM bushings, or upgrade to polyurethane. If i go with polyurethane, i am thinking of getting a complete kit that not only replaces the suspension bushings, but body mounts as well, but, after doing some research, i hear a lot of people say that polyurethane will make my truck a lot stiffer to drive, and that they require periodic greasing and maintenance to keep them from going bad, although most of what i have read is in the line of, i heard this or that from so and so, and not much in the way of actual experience point of view. What i am basically looking for is to hear from the guys who have upgraded to polyurethane and how they hold up in real world situations, whether it be a daily driver or a purpose built trail rig. I would like to know things like how long ago you installed them, what kind of driving you do with the vehicle, and most of all, how well they have held up, and how much, if any, maintenance has to be done to them.
  7. I've shared Sonnax upgrades for the Chrysler RE (Dodge Ram) and RH (Jeep Wrangler) automatic transmissions at the magazine. These are fundamental, in-chassis modifications designed to help any RWD Chrysler A727 or 904/999—and the RE/RH four-speed overdrive units—simply survive. These Sonnax upgrades are not "high performance" modifications intended for high horsepower pullers or those toting a 9-horse trailer day in and day out. I'm separating needs here. For building a "bulletproof" transmission, there is a whole industry targeting the "performance" buildups of the 47RE and 48RE automatics. We'll make that another topic, for sure! The basic survival needs are mostly valve body related plus an upgrade band accumulator/apply piston. Accessible in the chassis, you can read about the reasons for these improvements at my illustrated, in-depth article: http://www.4wdmechanix.com/Survival-Upgrades-for-Jeep-and-Dodge-Ram-Automatic-Transmissions.html. I could have replaced the band strut at the same time, which is also an in-chassis change. This is our 48RE with oil pan removed. I'm about to remove the valve body and accumulator piston for Sonnax upgrades. See the heavily illustrated article for details. (If you can't see these photos, join us as a member—for free—and get full viewing privileges!) I am curious about the 48RE transmission's cooling needs. Our Cummins diesel application has an OEM external cooler with a thermostat, and aftermarket coolers, at least the "universal" ones I've seen, do not have this provision. Is there a cooler system for these transmissions that incorporates a thermostat, or is the thermostat really necessary? The magazine's 2005 Ram 3500 operates from a four-season, high desert climate (4400 feet elevation). Winter can be sub-zero F at the extremes. (Summer is hot, it will be 104 degrees F this week.) Without the thermostat on the cooler, is there a problem? What capacity cooler will actually replace the OEM and improve the system? Who makes the best retrofit coolers for these truck automatic transmissions? Any "direct replacement" types, or do they all require custom fit and mounting brackets? We do plan to tow, and the truck weighs plenty empty: 9,100-plus pounds. Would like to keep the 48RE alive...We don't abuse it, but we do use it! Moses
  8. Hi, guys. This is a question about preference and real world advice. On a 2005 crew cab Dodge Ram 2500 4x4 truck used to haul a large car trailer (19 foot, 2500LBS. empty), and at times a heavy equipment trailer, which would be better for the rear suspension: to add air bags or the metal spring helpers that bolt over top of the rear springs? Sometimes, with the car trailer and a medium size car, the rear does drop a bit, and with the heavy equipment trailer, with a bobcat with a bucket on the front of it, it sags every time. The other vehicle is my 1994 Dakota 4x4. I dont haul anything heavier than an occasional 2 wheel dolly or my jet ski trailer, with a yamaha 1100 triple and a polaris slt780 two seater on it. It seems to tow ok, but with the jet skis on the back, the drop is noticeable, even with new rear heavy duty shocks, so i am wondering which would be better to use on the rear suspension of this truck as well: the air bags or the spring helpers?
  9. The Dodge Power Wagon established itself in wartime—like the original Willys-Jeep Model MB. The civilian 4x4 models further distinguished these rugged trucks, and Dodge and Ram 4WD has become legendary. In this forum, meet other Dodge and Ram truck owners, and share experiences and how-to. Special emphasis on 4x4s and Cummins power make these forums popular!—Moses Ludel The Dodge Ram Power Wagon (left) carries forth a tradition of rugged 4x4 utility! Our 4WD Mechanix Magazine 2005 Dodge Ram 3500 4x4 underwent a complete makeover (center). At right, Ram distinguishes itself is a "Ram Runner" run-off against the Ford Raptor!
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