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Found 6 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. I'm in the hunt for a Dodge Ram, 5.9 Cummins diesel, 4x4, manual. I live in Canada, and I'm planning 2 major trips (SW USA and Alaska). I'll be pulling a truck camper (about 1600 lbs. + gear = 2000 lbs.). I'm looking for reliability (hardest thing is to find a truck that hasn't been abused!) and fuel efficiency. Below are 2 trucks I'm currently interested in. Is there one that makes more sense for the use I'm planning (pulling a truck camper most of the time): http://www.kijiji.ca...ings/1029975073 and http://www.kijiji.ca/v-cars-trucks/strathcona-county/2006-dodge-cummins-ram-3500-special-order/1036172584?enableSearchNavigationFlag=true I'd appreciate any help. Thanks, Seb
  3. The exchange with Megatron around his 48RE shudder at take-off reminded me of installation of oversized tires on our Ram 3500 4WD truck. Prior to installing the 4" lift and oversized tires, the truck had achieved great fuel mileage as a stone stock vehicle. I was thrilled with the Ram's fuel mileage and performance from new (October 2004) until the summer of 2011. Then it was time to bring the truck to the standard that readers and sponsors like—lifted, accessorized and sporting oversize tires! (See the Ram truck build up at the magazine: http://www.4wdmechanix.com/2005-Dodge-Ram-3500-Major-Makeover.html.) Stock gearing was 3.73:1, and with a Cummins 5.9L ISB engine, that meant cruising between 1,600 and 1,900 rpm most of the time. This worked perfectly for fuel efficiency, much to Chrysler's engineering credit. My expectation, considering the extraordinary low-end torque of the H.O. diesel, was that oversized tires would have little impact on the fuel mileage—in fact, I even speculated that the mileage would improve, since the engine could stay in the 1,600 to 1,700 rpm range at interstate speeds! Peak torque for this engine is at 1,600 rpm, optimal for fuel efficiency. Boy, was I in for a surprise! Trips to Chico, CA for the Transfer Flow fuel tank installation and the subsequent run to the 2011 Off-Road Expo at Pomona gave a hint. Mileage seemed stagnant and, if anything, off its usual peaks. I attributed the unimpressive mileage to mountainous roads and higher cruising speeds, but the true problem reared itself when I towed a 7,500# toy hauler trailer to the 2012 King of the Hammers Race at Johnson Valley, CA. The trip was to film the races and interview celebrities like Shannon Campbell that week. (You'll find this coverage and more at the 4WD Rock Crawling & Racing Channel on the magazine website.) Trailer in tow to places like Moab, UT, the truck had achieved 17 mpg at interstate speeds and 6% grades with the stock diameter tires (under 32" diameter). Now, with 35" tires, the mileage with the same weight trailer in tow, adhering to California's trailering speed of 55 mph, the mileage plummeted to 12-13 mpg! Before all of the modifications and weighty accessories, at 55 mph with the stock tires and gearing, trailer towing would have netted 19-20 mpg! Oversized tires with stock gearing creates an additional "overdriving effect". Sometimes this is advantageous, but in the case of our '05 Dodge Ram 3500 4x4 Quad Cab, the combination of 1,350 pounds of new accessories and auxiliary fuel, plus the 35" tires, made the stock 3.73:1 gearing unacceptable. The change to 4.56:1 gearing has bumped fuel efficiency back to a peak of 21-23 mpg (unloaded, full fuel capacity, no trailer in tow)—if I keep speed at or below 65 mph in overdrive. While a direct correction for the tire size and axle gearing would have been 4.10:1, I knew that the added weight of accessories and auxiliary fuel, plus the increased drag from the lift, would make "stock" gearing no longer practical. With the 4.56:1 gears, I do "pay for it" in extra fuel consumption when driving above 65 mph. It acts like a linear thing: The fuel mileage drops with each mph increase in speed! Had I planned on driving over 65 in overdrive most of the time, without a trailer in tow, I would have opted for the 4.10:1 gears. We do plan to pull trailers with a GVWR under 10,000#, so the 4.56:1 gears are optimal, and mileage is good—if I keep my foot out of the throttle! If you own a Ram 2500 or 3500 HD 4WD pickup like ours, a suspension lift and oversized tires will likely demand ring-and-pinion gear changes. I cover the 11.5" and 9.25" AAM axle re-gearing at the magazine site: http://www.4wdmechanix.com/How-to-AAM-11.5-Axle-Rebuild.html [detailed article with how-to steps in color photos] http://www.4wdmechanix.com/HD-Video-How-to-AAM-9.25-Axle-Rebuild.html [an overview that works in conjunction with the 11.5" AAM axle rebuild article] Moses
  4. 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
  5. 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?
  6. 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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