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March 2009 Off-Road Unloaded - Letters to the Editor

Posted in Features on March 1, 2009
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Plow King
I'm looking to buy a new GMC 3500 HD diesel 4x4 extended long-bed pickup. I like to save on fuel and try very hard to save, but I do like to smoke the car next to me for the 1,500-foot take-off at the light, then go back to saving fuel. I also do a light amount of snowplowing in the winter and would love to buy the biggest plow possible (even a 10-footer). What mods would I need to kick ass plowing while still being able to get great fuel economy, and what mods would I need for a big plow? I even was looking at the HHO gas generator to save in gas. I don't have a problem with money and I'm looking to make a really cool truck. I have an '03 Chevy now that I put a Banks 6-Gun and 2-inch Cognito kit on with 265s, but it's boring. Also, I live in Grayslake, Illinois. Who installs all this stuff? There is no one around here that I can find. Love the propane nitro thing! But is it good on fuel when you don't get on it? I'd really like a 5-inch lift, but what about plowing? Oh yeah, my truck is about 9,000 lbs the way it is right now. I would love your input on this. Thanks!Steve LesterGrayslake, IL

Steve, I wish I could help you out on shops, but I don't know of any in your area.

As for the truck parts: I'd suggest calling up Sway-A-Way ( and getting a set of performance torsion bars. Their stiffer rate will really help with your heavy front end once you put the plow on it. I'd also suggest getting some heavy duty ball joints from your local parts store, and checking into some Light Racing ( Jounce shocks to help smooth out the bumps with your heavy truck.

I've been hearing a lot of good things about the HHO thing, and if you try it out, please let us know how you like it. The propane supplemental injection into your diesel will add power and increase fuel economy, but you are still burning an extra fuel (propane), so you'll have to figure out for yourself if it's monetarily worth it.

And as funny as I might think "smoking" the car next to you at the light is, that type of thing is really bringing the EPA down on diesel truck owners, so I am requesting you be really careful so you don't earn yourself a hefty ticket for gross pollution.

Since I have no experience with plows, I requested the input of David Kennedy, of Diesel Power magazine, who used to plow his streets back in Massachusetts. This is his response:

"The problem with lifting a plow truck is that it puts more of a load on the frame. If you're not going to plow a lot, it could be fine. The GM front gross axle weight rating (GAWR) will limit his plow size. I wouldn't use anything bigger than an 8-foot plow if it were my truck. Big plows are fine for parking lots, but they suck for clearing out driveways."

This month, Hi-Lift Jack Co. is stoking out the Letter of the Month with a Handle-All kit. This is a really compact kit that gives you a fullsize pick-axe, axe, shovel, and sledgehammer in one kit. The handle collapses after pulling the pins and it all fits in the included carrying case. Check out the Handle-All at

Letter Of The Month
Dodge Lovers Unite!

I was reading the article, "Leaf Spring Rethink," in the August 2008 issue of OFF-ROAD. On pages 48-49 there is a red, short bed, regular cab Dodge Ram, that looks to be the same year as mine.

I've had mine since '96, and I've been happy with the performance over the years as a daily driver and trail truck. As of now, this truck is no longer a daily driver, and various ideas have crept through my head. What I'd like to do is safely make this truck a more capable prerunner, and if possible keep the 4WD. I've also wondered if it would be at all possible to toss the front end, and maybe go with an aftermarket Ford Bronco/F150 TTB front end, from Camburg or someone.

I know that starting with this truck might not be the easiest route, but it's been a great truck, and I'd like to do something different than everyone else. I've also put some cubic money into the truck, and wouldn't get close to what I have in it if I were to try and sell it.

Currently it's got a fresh heavy duty rebuilt tranny and transfer case, new 4.56 gear sets, and a Detroit locker in the rear. I have a 3-inch Rancho lift on the truck, and a 5-inch short-arm kit I've put off installing, as I don't know if it's what I want on the truck. I know I'll need to contact National Spring, as the rear end of my truck feels similar to what was at one point described in the article.

Though the pics aren't very close, the Ram in the above mentioned article doesn't look like any set up I've seen before, though I could be wrong. Do you have any info on it?

What are your thoughts on how I should proceed? You can be honest too. If you think it's a lost cause; I'd rather hear it from someone with some experience than tear the truck apart and be left with a pile of junk!

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide!Justin MooreTucson, AZ

Justin, lucky for you I don't have more space to answer your questions, because I have a terrible Dodge obsession and you'd never get me to shut up. And because you love the same truck that I do, I'm going to play favorites here and make yours my Letter of the Month. You'll be getting a really cool Handle-All kit from Hi-Lift Jack Co.

That red Dodge in the mag is my No. 1 love of all my vehicles. I've had it since 1996 and it has seen multiple changes. Currently, I am running 14-inch Fox coilovers on the front with an Extreme Suspensions long-arm kit and am able to use every inch of travel. I put the coilovers on back in the '90s but I just never finished the truck. This month you'll see a story on Page 36 that will answer a lot of your questions about Dodge building as we get ready to start cutting and fabbing with Off-Road Evolution in Fullerton, California.

Editor's Note: If you want to say or ask something, email Unloaded at or write: Unloaded, OFF-ROAD Magazine, 2400 E. Katella Ave., Ste. 1100, Anaheim, CA 92806.

Remember, we're giving away swag every month to the author of our favorite letter. Be sure to include your address, so we know where to send your goods. And from now on, please know that we are not going to be copyediting your letter if you are going to be hating on us, so you better check it over well before sending it our way!

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