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Synergy Long-Arm Conversion for Heavy-Duty Rams

Posted in How To: Suspension Brakes on March 17, 2016
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We just upgraded the suspension links on our Ram 3500 with a long-arm kit from Synergy Manufacturing. If you have a 4x4 with coil springs and solid axles (like our 2010 Ram 3500) it most likely has links (also known as control arms) running from the axle to the frame. The links are designed to keep the axle located under the frame and allow it to move in a controlled arc of movement up and down. The stock suspension links are often pretty flat but not very long.

As you lift a 4x4 with suspension links, the links move from being flat to more angled, and that isn’t good. The more angled the links, the more drastic the arc of movement of the axle. The axle starts to move forward and backward, and less in an up and down arc as it should. When the truck hits an obstacle (say, a ditch) the axle has to push forward into the obstacle in order to compress the suspension, and this can give a more jarring suspension ride.

Adjusting the length and mounting location of the links can help alleviate this issue in a lifted truck. It would be nice if the axle moved in a straight line up and down, but this isn’t always possible. Moving to a longer suspension link with a flatter orientation should reduce the forward and aft movement of the axle, and should also allow the axle to move easier. Then controlling the movement of the axle is done by the shocks and not the geometry of the suspension links.

Of course, going to a flatter link can reduce some ground clearance (at the frame side mount), but the benefit is often worth the cost when comparing the ride quality and speed improvements off-road. We worked with the crew at Synergy to upgrade our truck for an improved ride and the ability for even larger tires in the future if we desire.

The front suspension on our Ram is just at the limit of needing a long-arm conversion, as we only have a 2 1/2-inch suspension lift. This just clears 35-inch tires and only rubs slightly on the lower links when turning. Moving to longer links will allow the suspension to move in a nearly vertical trajectory compared to the smaller arc of the short arms.

Warning! Cutting and grinding are necessary to install the new long-arm suspension because the old frame mounts are chopped off, and returning to stock after adding this upgrade is almost impossible. Synergy tech Mike Macdonald made short work of the old brackets with careful cutoff wheel skills.

A portion of the lower gusset on the frame side of the body mount is also cut to clear the longer links at full compression. After cutting has been done with the plasma torch and cutoff wheel, all surfaces are cleaned with a grinder then primed and painted to leave no trace.

The long-arm suspension design on our Ram is a four-link with a track bar. This style of suspension with four nearly parallel links can often result in binding under articulation. To deal with any suspension bind, Synergy offers its dual durometer bushing joints as an option for the long-arm kit. These compromise both a soft bushing and a harder center bushing for a mixture of reduced harshness and solid control. This allows the joints to flex and move, giving the truck a ride quality that doesn’t annoy the driver and passenger for long road trips both on- and off-road. The link ends are fed into a double adjuster that allows lengthening or shortening the link by loosening the crimp bolt and turning just the middle threaded piece. (Note the liberal use of messy antiseize on all threads.)

The suspension links drop right into the factory axle mounts. Because of the adjustable link length, the old cam-style adjusters on the lower axle mounts are deleted and replaced with solid washers.

The frame mounts for the long arms are mounted back by the transmission crossmember and tied into the crossmember for strength. The mounts require drilling and sleeving the frame before bolting the brackets to the frame. We went a step further and welded the mounts to the chassis since we don’t expect to be taking them off anytime soon. Note the skidplate from the frame mount to the crossmember, to help the links drag over obstacles if encountered.

The frame mounts for the long arms are mounted back by the transmission crossmember and tied into the crossmember for strength. The mounts require drilling and sleeving the frame before bolting the brackets to the frame. We went a step further and welded the mounts to the chassis since we don’t expect to be taking them off anytime soon. Note the skidplate from the frame mount to the crossmember, to help the links drag over obstacles if encountered.

Sources

Synergy Manufacturing
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
805-242-0397
www.synergymfg.com

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