Reader: First, let me say thanks for a great magazine. You've occupied my mind and time while serving here in Iraq. I've had an idea kicking around for some time now and could use some guidance and expertise. I have a new '06 Dodge Ram 2500 Mega Cab with the 5.9L Cummins turbodiesel, and aftermarket hop-up parts are stacking up at the house. Anyway, my last truck was an '01 Dodge Ram 3500 dualie, also with the Cummins. It was fantastic, except it was so long and so wide, and the engine was much louder than the newer models. Turning and parking required a volume of space not found in any/many parking lots, trail heads, and so on, so I got the idea of buying a new Chevy or GMC with the Quadrasteer option. Sounded perfect! But after searching the dealerships and the Internet, I discovered that GM no longer offered the Quadrasteer option. Then I found out about the new Dodge Mega Cab (I've been in Iraq for over a year, so I haven't been "out" much). The kids are getting big fast and I could use more cab space. It has the great Cummins engine power and torque that I fell in love with on the 3500, it was narrower than the dualie, it had the shortbed (which is all I really need), and it was quieter than the older 3500.
Then it hit me. What if I could turn this Mega Cab in a tighter space by installing only the Quadrasteer rear axle? That would be perfect! So, how difficult is it to find just a new Quadrasteer axle, how much would it cost, and how hard would it be to install on my new Dodge (especially considering the fact that it's been lifted with a 6-inch BDS lift kit and 35-inch tires)? If I can get this axle to work on my truck, I think I'd have a heck of a setup and it would be much more user-friendly. What are your thoughts?
Editor: How difficult to find? Well, it won't be easy-GM only sold some 16,000 Quadrasteer'd trucks-but not impossible. While your idea is intriguing, the real difficulty is going to be making the Quadrasteer work in a non-GM application. The original GM system, sourced from Delphi, used front-wheel position sensors, which, in combination with an actuator and control unit, determined the amount of rear steer to apply based on road speed and hand-wheel position. See the potential problem yet? Assuming you could find everything you'd need (e.g., all the modules as well as a properly geared axle; GM offered 1/2-ton and 3/4-ton versions of Quadrasteer), then get the axle to actually fit under your truck (read: lots of work, and you can probably forget about matching wheel bolt patterns), and plumb up everything accordingly, you'd still have the problem of integrating the proprietary Dodge and GM electronics. Could the Dodge's ECU be somehow reprogrammed to accept the GM module's steering algorithms, or vice versa? Well, anything is possible ... but we wouldn't bet the kids' tuition money on it.
So if you've got to have OE rear steer, our advice would be to sell the Dodge and buy a Quadrasteer-equipped GM truck.
Reader: In the October "Letters" column, "Driver B" stated that it is best to tie down at the frame on a trailer with a vehicle on it. This is fine for heavy-duty equipment like a bulldozer, but winching the frame down and then hitting bumps on the road is a sure way to warp a frame. Since four wheeling tends to do that at times, why help things along? Granted, extra care should be taken with an enclosed trailer, but I have never seen one that was properly tied down rubbing the trailer walls inside. The key is to have a big enough trailer and not drive like an idiot.
Over the last 35 years, I have towed just about anything that could be towed. To haul a regular vehicle on an open trailer, I use the winch tie-downs to secure the tires to the floor of the trailer. Yes, you can tie down on the axles and I have done that. However, this runs a risk of damage to brake lines. By securing the wheels, the towed vehicle does help with its own trailering. Most trailers do not have shock absorbers, and the shocks will dampen the shifting load.
When Driver B stated what he was hauling, I was surprised he didn't describe the wreck. It wouldn't have been an accident, but the result would have been the same. Towing a pickup on a trailer isn't impossible, but to do it with a Bronco isn't what I would recommend. Pickups tend to be heaviest in the front. That's the way they are designed so they can haul stuff. That means he had a short-wheelbase vehicle with more than 60 percent of the weight on the front of the trailer. That is why it was all over the road. I have seen rigs going down the road that were so frontend-heavy, the hitch receiver was visibly bending downward on each bump. The nose of the trailer was nearly dragging the ground, and the headlights were in the trees. You want the weight as balanced as possible, with slightly more on the trailer tongue. Remember, you might bend the speed laws a bit, but the laws of physics are immutable.