Tech Questions Answered!
Black Sheep Bumper
Q I read "Project Black Sheep," the article on the '09 Dodge Ram (Mar. '10), and the tubular bumper caught my eye since I am trying to get a bumper exactly like that for my '05 Dodge Ram 1500. There is not one made in the aftermarket, so I believe I will have to get one custom made. Could I get a build sheet for that bumper and maybe the name of who fabricated it so I could get one built to fit my truck?
A The front bumper was a custom build by Randy Ellis Designs (602.803.1122, www.randyellisdesign.com) in Phoenix. RED does all types of fabrication, from cages and bumpers to race trucks and custom suspensions. In addition to the custom stuff, RED also has a full line of light bars. I'm sure the company would build a custom bumper for you if you're willing to come to Phoenix.
More Black Sheep?
Q I read all three articles on the '09 Ram Black Sheep project (Mar.-May '09) but was still unclear of the suspension system that was put on it. Was it just a front leveling kit or a full system? How much lift did it provide to fit the 37s?
A Fitting the 37-inch Mickey Thompsons was done more by removing body and less by lifting the truck. The factory front bumper, inner fenderwells, and all four fender flares were removed. Luckily the Ram wheel openings are quite large so no body trimming was needed, though some body seams were knocked down inside the wheelwell.
The front suspension consists of an Edelbrock coilover shock, which does raise the front end about an inch, and some Edelbrock big-jump air bumps that stop the front tires from bottoming out aggressively. The rear suspension is the heaviest-rate coil spring that Dodge offers with the Edelbrock shocks and air bump stops.
Unfortunately we have not heard whether the front shocks and air bumps have ever gone into production. Also, the rear coils are not adequate for towing, and we will soon be swapping in some Icon Vehicle Dynamics progressive-rate rear coils.
The tires never rub in normal driving, but they just barely kiss the front of the front fenders and corner of the tube bumper under extreme bottoming out of the front suspension. This is an easy fix.
The low stance doesn't make it the best trail vehicle, as there is plenty of rocker panel to tag and not much underbelly skidplating, but for dirt roads, desert exploring, camping, and daily driving it's excellent. All in all it is one of the smoothest-driving project trucks we've ever built on 37s.
Geared For More Rubber
Q I need help getting the right gear ratio on my '95 Ford Bronco. It has a 5.8L V-8 engine with an auto trans and overdrive. It runs 3/4-ton axles with 42x15 Super Swampers and 4.11 gears. I want to use it as a daily driver and play in the mud on weekends. It jumps in/out of over drive at 55-65 mph and does not have a lot of power on takeoff. I looked at some gear ratio charts on the Internet, but they are based on manual trans and I'm not sure what to go by. Most say to go with 5.71 gears, but I can only afford to buy gears once, so I need to be right the first time.
A A 5.71 would be excellent, but I would go with 5.38 gears. From the looks of the photo your rear axle is a Ford Sterling 10.50-inch, and I believe 5.38 is the lowest ratio available for it. You have a lot of tire, and I think any less gear (as in 5.13, 4.88, or 4.56) will be hard on the driveshafts and the transmission and transfer case parts. Plus, with the overdrive transmission you should still be able to run down the high way no problem. The Off-Road Connection (800.792.2280, www.offrdconnection.com) in Fultondale, Alabama, is a local shop that could help you with this gear swap if you don't want to do it yourself.
Get in the Back!
Q I would like to install a bench seat in a CJ-5 (to seat three) and leave room in back for cargo. Any suggestions?