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General information about the various mods available to 4x4 vehicles covering pros and cons to assist in the decision of "Is this the right mod?"

John Stewart

Replace the hook

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It always seems to be in the way and no convenient place to snug it out of the way.  Enter the next generation of decorations for the end of winch cable.

Factor 55 has designed a line of strong and light recovery products for the the off road market based on exacting aerospace and defense industry standards.  Their ProLink series, of 6000 series aluminum, eliminates the traditional winch hook in favor of a safer and stronger screw pin shackle D-Ring.

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Jon Negaard

Building a General Purpose Mobile Comms Suite

I like to get out with a purpose.  Usually, my rig takes me places where I like to do other things.  I have bikes, kayaks and feet that like to get away from the vehicle more than I tend to take the truck down trails these days.  This is not to say that 4 wheeling is not a goal; time to take advantage of extended outings just hasn't been in abundance.  That said, I decided that I wanted a communication system that would function with a general purpose.  I wanted to use both amateur radio frequencies and CB communications.

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John Stewart

Airdown Made Simple

Staun Tire Deflator Set okay, I had read about them.  I won a set in a raffle once.  They stayed in the console while I used my favorite home-brew hose connection to air-down two tires at a time.  One morning while reaching for my air gauge, I grabbed the little pouch of deflators.  Well, why not try them?

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John Stewart

Leveling the Dodge 1500 4x4

Torsion Key Comparision

I found a solution with the ReadyLift Leveling Suspension Kit which advertised maintaining stock height and raising the front end to eliminate the nose down look.

The kit for the Dodge 1500 provided two forged torsion bar keys.  The hex slots were clocked slightly different than the stock keys which provided for the front nose lift.

Installation is simple, requiring that the front end be raised (and supported) enough to loosen and remove the torsion bars.

The kit does include a bracket for unloading the torsion bar pressure.  The heavy metal bracket the slips over the top of the key holder.  Still necessary is a tool to compress the key.  The recommended tool is GM OTC 7822A.

Once the torsion key is unloaded, the torsion adjusting bolt can be removed.  At this point, the torsion bar can be removed from its socket enough to allow the stock key to be remove and replaced with the new torsion key.  

In most cases the torsion bars will loosen and reinstall with no problems.  If the truck has seen any off-road action, gentle persuasion may be required or extra bolts may need to be loosened to provide crossmember movement enough for clearance.

As with any modification to a suspension system, a preliminary inspection of all suspension components (including alignment) is highly recommended.  During the preliminary inspection of the Dodge, the lower ball joints were found to be slightly out of recommended tolerances and the shocks were worn.

Wheel alignment is critical for safe and efficient vehicle operation.  The torsion key replacement changes the geometry of the steering and suspension requiring an alignment.

The torsion bar adjustments require a flat surface and tape measure.  With the truck sitting on a level surface, measure the height from a reference point just behind the front wheels and a reference point just ahead of the rear wheels on each side.

 For a starting point, assume the height on the left rear is the desired height.  Starting with the left torsion adjustment, snug it to the point where the left front is raised to match the left rear height.  Some adjust may be needed on the right to fine tune to make the four height measurements equal.  

Generally, the left torsion adjustment will have the most effect.  This adjustment will make for a stiffer ride and can be tweaked for personal preference.  Each 1/4 inch of adjustment of the bolt equal one inch of height at the wheel.

With the torsion bar set, it is time to replace the worn lower ball joints.  Spicer provides a very durable ball joint and does have one for the Dodge Ram trucks.  While the ball joint does come with a grease zerk fitting, that fitting does need to be removed and replaced with a plug.  The grease zerk fitting will interfere with the IFS/CV joint.  The Spicer part number for the lower ball joints used is: 505-1294.

The final step is an alignment to set the correct camber and caster of the front tires.  This should be accomplished by a certified mechanic with a functional alignment rack and gauges.

With the torsion key, ball joint, and alignment complete, it was time to replace the shocks.  The rear height was not changed so the stock shock length was not altered.  However, the front was raised slightly more than one inch. 

Raising the front meant that stock shocks (10.75 inches collapsed and 15.875 inches extended) would be shorter than required.  Bilstein provides a shock in their 5100 series that is 13.26 inches collapsed and 21.51 inches extended.  While it is slightly longer than necessary, it is a standard item.  Adding 15 inch limiting straps will reduce the downward travel and potential for binding the IFS CV joint.  The Bilstein part numbers used are: rear - F4-BE5-2550-H1 and front - F4-BE5-6528-H6.

And, no major work is complete without a look at the brake pads and rotors.  With the high mileage, a brake job was due.  The front and rear pads were worn as were the front brake rotors.  As the front rotors are the most prone to wear, they are recommended to be replaced rather than machined. However, the rear rotors showed minimal wear and required a minimal machining to clean up the rotor surface and ensure it was smooth.

All work completed, it was time for a road test.  The road test revealed improved steering control and overall ride improvement.  It was like driving a new vehicle.

Work was done by:
Roger Daniels Alignment & Brake
8517 Ablette Road, Shop F
Santee, CA  92071
(619) 562-7969
BAR # ARD214109

 

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Joe Micciche

Porting the Superflow MV50 Compressor

The piston upon initial disassembly

I wanted to find out whether there was anything wrong with mine, and whether I could do anything to get sustained flow again. For disassembly, all that is required is a 4mm allen wrench or driver for the head bolts, and a 14mm wrench for the output fitting.

 
Disassembly of the compressor piston and head takes a minute. Once the four studs are removed, everything else can be removed by hand. Not surprisingly, when I pulled the piston head off, I found very visible signs of overheating. I cleaned up the piston, the skirt, and the head, and used a very thin application of high-quality grease on the piston.

After studying the head for a few minutes, it became obvious that there was room to port the intake and output ports. Each port is covered by a flexible steel flap, and when the piston is on the downstroke the flap opens to allow air in to the chamber. Then when the piston is on the upstroke, the compressed air forces open the output flap. These flaps make excellent templates for the porting.

Using a router bit on a Dremel, I removed the rib and a bit of extra material on the intake port for a roughly 25% gain in flow capacity. I used the Dremel to effectively double the size of the output port.

 After a good cleaning, I reassembled the compressor, and using parts from leftover projects installed a brass, barbed output; and a new coiled hose (the original hose fittings leaked at the assembly that is screwed onto the valve stem). Then I sourced a zooty Type R filter to replace the original plastic and sponge filter for more airflow and a touch of bling.

The MV50 is rated at 150 psi and 2.5 CFM and when new, it could inflate a 33" tire from 18psi to 35psi in roughly 3 minutes. After this cleaning and porting, the MV50 sustained airflow over multiple fills and consistently aired my 33's from 18psi to 35psi in just over two minutes per tire. This is a very satisfactory result for 1 hour of time and $7.

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