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  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. My 2006 Dakota quad cab 4x4 has 150k miles on it and is in need of a torque converter. The dealer won't replace it without replacing the tranny also. $4900 is their price. Instead of spending that on a transmission, I would rather install a hemi and do away with the V6. I get 16.5 mpg highway and 8.5 mpg towing a 3700lb boat in Oklahoma. I also have a 2009 Ram 1500 back in Denver with a hemi that gets 21 mpg and 14 towing my boat. So I am looking to install a V8 hemi with a comparable transmission & transfer case. I see wrecked trucks in every state so finding a used complete package is easy. I just want to know what year of combination package should I look for? Will a Ram 1500 hemi, trans & transfer fit? I know I may have to change drive shaft lengths but will I need to fabricate different mounts for the transmission and engine? What problems will I need to address? I don't really need the 390 horses but it should get over 21 mpg. Or is there a better V6 with more power and better gas mileage? I could have my 42RLE trans rebuilt with heavier parts. Or even rebuild the V6 with forged parts and turbocharge it. Just worried about too much heat when towing. Also, reflashing the computer to sense manifold pressure. What would be your suggestion to gain mph and a little more power? I use my Dakota to drive from Oklahoma City airport to lake Eufaulla, about 120 miles. My boat stays at the lake so I only tow it sometimes to visit another lake. Also, do you know anyone that will do the conversion for me. I don't have the time, I'd rather be playing on the water and pay someone. Please help, mike
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. Aisin AX15 manual 5-speed transmissions are popular and found in 1989-99 Jeep vehicles, Dodge Dakota pickups and some GM/Isuzu and Toyota light trucks. Highly detailed, this close up step-by-step instructional HD video rental is available only at vimeo.com/ondemand/ax15rebuild. Included is the information necessary for performing a complete restoration and professional level rebuild of the AX15 transmission. The AX15 transmission rebuilding process involves complex disassembly and assembly sequences. This is a precision gearbox, and every teardown and assembly step is equally important. Knowing which new parts your transmission requires is also valuable. This HD video rental includes two sections. Part 1 is teardown and inspection to establish your needed parts list. Part 2 is the assembly work. Both Part 1 and Part 2 are included in this 94-minute instructional HD video! Whether you have a shop specializing in light truck and 4x4 work or have a one-time 'DIY' project for your personal Jeep, light truck or SUV, this 30-day HD video rental can save you considerable time and money. For the cost of an AX15 shift cover boot, the rental will pay for itself many times over! The magazine's most popular technical articles and how-to videos have been reformatted and painstakingly edited as Vimeo On Demand productions. The latest feature is this in depth instructional how-to covering the rebuild of the popular Aisin AX15 transmission. Access the 94-minute Vimeo On Demand feature at: https://vimeo.com/ax15rebuild
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. Moses, time to pick your brain again on my 1994 dakota. I finally found the right extension housing, swapped it, filled the transmission, and now it has a severe vibration in first through 4th gears. i know i could probably just rebuild it, but when i got the extension housing, it came off a complete transmission i picked up, so im thinking of just using the used one i picked up, since its supposed to be a good transmission. The one odd thing i noticed though, with the transmission i picked up, is with it sitting on the floor in the garage, the shifter is very stiff, and i cant get it into any gear except first. Could that just be because it is sitting out of the truck on the floor in the garage, and because it has been cold out? I dont want to swap the transmission, only to find out i have issues with the one i picked up and have to take it back out.
  11. Moses, we were discussing broken studs in another post, and you posted a link to a how to that brought up another question i have had for awhile now. The link to the how-to is: http://www.4wdmechanix.com/HD-Video-Tool-How-to-Using-the-OTC-7394-Hub-Puller.html. About half way down, you show a tool to remove the threaded upper ball joint in Chrysler and Dodge vehicles. Is that tool, the OTC 8034, the same one you would use for the second gen (1991-1996) Dodge Dakotas? I have replaced a few of those ball joints, and what i usually do is use a long pipe wrench to get them out, because none of the places i have ever worked for, or the parts stores around here, list a tool or carry a tool for those ball joints. The pipe wrench isnt always the most successful, because i have rounded off the ball joint head a couple times when the pipe wrench slipped. I have searched a few tool suppliers online the last few years, but none of them seem to know whether the tool they carry for Chrysler ball joints will specifically fit the Dakota. I couldn't see buying it and having it not work.
  12. 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?
  13. As some of you already know, i have a 1994 4x4 dakota with a 3.9l, that i have been toying with the idea of adding an onboard air compressor and tank, to fill tires and run air tools intermittently off of, but my truck has A/C, and everything runs off one single serpentine belt, so how would i go about adding a good belt driven air compressor? My durango has one of the small 12v electric onboard compressors, but that seems to take forever to even fill a portable air tank, and definitely wouldn't work to run an impact tool. I tried adding a 10 gallon tank in my durango, but it took over an hour to fill to 80 LBS. I can make or source brackets to mount the compressor, but would anyone know where i can get a pulley that i could bolt onto one of my existing pulleys, like the water pump or crank pulley, or even drill holes in my power steering pulley and bolt a v-belt pulley to the front of it? I know there is a post on here about using a york a/c compressor, but after looking at one, i don't see a way to add it to my truck, because it doesnt have a lot of room under the hood. One idea i did have, was maybe bolt the compressor down on the frame below the fan, but, to do that, it looks like the compressor would be running backwards, and i am not sure that would work.
  14. I have a 1994 4 wheel drive dodge dakota, 3.9l, ax15 5spd, that i need to replace the extension housing on. The extension housing is the piece that is in front of the transfer case, and the shifter bolts into, and the trans mount bolts to. What i am trying to find out is if the extension housing from a jeep will work, since both the jeep and dakota use an AX15. If the jeep housing will work, what years, engines, and models should i look for? Also, is there a difference between a v-6 and v-8 AX15? And, last question, will the complete AX15 transmission from a jeep bolt in and work in the dakota? The local yards say no, but i don't see the trans being that much different between the two makes of vehicles. I need to find out this info because i can find a ton of manual trans jeep vehicles at the local u pull yards, but no manual trans dakotas, so far. The reason i need to change the extension housing, as you can see in the attached pic, is that the person i bought the truck from kind of abused it and didn't seem to care about the consequences. How the problem actually happened is a lesson to anyone who works on their own trucks, though. One of the trans mount bolts sheared off in the extension housing, and from repeated burnouts, and hard 4 wheeling, the other one either snapped or came out. The vehicle was driven like that until the trans slammed up and down enough times on the cross member and punched a hole in the housing. So, if you are going to be rough on a jeep or a dakota, i would recommend changing the trans bolts with something stronger than the factory ones!
  15. 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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