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2004 2WD Dodge Ram 1500 - Building An East Coast Prerunner

Posted in Features on October 1, 2009
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Editor's Note: Staff Sergeant Jeff Bade is currently serving with the Air Force in Iraq right now in sweltering heat. He got this story to us just before he left the states and showed that his talents include not only defending our country but also writing and photographing, as well.

Over the course of about 8 months and close to a total of $6,500, I was able to complete most of the work at home by myself with a little help from my dad, and with just hand tools. Now, I am the proud owner of a modified 2004 2WD Dodge Ram 1500 that began stock and now is closer to what I have wanted to have for years. With the increased performance, the new suspension, the addition of a few lights, some upgraded brake lines, new wheels and tires, I am ready to hit the dirt and test it all out.

Now that I had the truck's engine performance turned up, it was time to turn my attention to the off-road performance. This was achieved by going to CST Suspension (part# CSK-D23-1) and getting one of their 7-inch lifts that comes with 3-inch-taller spindles combined with coil springs that give four inches of lift and larger shocks for the front and for the rear it got 3-inch tall blocks and again, larger shocks. I had to replace the hub assemblies in front due to the fact that they were both worn out-something noticed when the truck was pulled apart. Now considering I had never done a lift before, it wasn't all that hard to complete this CST suspension. The only real problem I had was snapping a lower shock mount bolt on the front. I was able to finish the entire lift in about three days time and that was using just hand tools and doing it all in my small one-car driveway.

The first step was to not only increase the performance of the truck but to also get perhaps a mile or two more per gallon. This was achieved by installing a Brute Force cold air intake from AEM (part# 21-8205DC) and a throttle body spacer from Poweraid (part# 300-573). Both were easily mounted up under an hour, with the removal of the factory air intake. Yes, AEM has throttle body spacers and Poweraid (Airaid) has air intakes, but this was the combination I chose.

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Bolt-On Exterior Goodies
Once the truck was sitting where I liked it, it came time to address the lighting problem. For that I gave a call to Defiant Truck Products (part# DTP-102-1501) to get a stable mounting platform for my lights. At the time they didn't have a light bar compatible with my truck so after talking with them, I had them custom fab me up a light bar that would hold four 9-inch lights. Now that they've done mine, I'm sure they'll have them available for other guys, too.

To solve the lighting problem I went to Lightforce and ordered up two pair of its 240 Blitz (part# RMDL240T) light kits along with two of their wiring harnesses (part# LFDLH), which made wiring up everything a snap. The installation of the light bar was straightforward and we had it installed on the truck in about an hour. The lights took a little bit longer to wire up but once they were turned on, it made a huge difference.

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I went with a set of black Cragar Soft 8 steel wheels size 17x8 with a 4.5-inch backspacing and Pro Comp Xterrain 35x12.50R17s to shoe my truck. Once finished with the suspension, I drove my truck down to the local Sears on stock tires to have the Crager wheels and Xterrain tires mounted and balanced, as well as having an alignment on the front end done.

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How'd It Turn Out?
Except for a few little problems that were resolved, the installation of everything was fairly easy. A big thanks go out to OFF-ROAD magazine, Brad Myers from CST Suspension, and the rest of the companies that helped with the parts. I would have to say the final verdict is the truck has become a well-rounded vehicle, which now not only looks good but performs just as well.

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Hawthorne, CA 90250
Phoenix, AZ 85050
Pro Comp
Compton, CA 90220
CST Suspension
Moreno Valley, CA 92553
Off Road Unlimited
Deffiant Truck Products

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