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Build Your Own Diesel Power Wagon

Posted in How To: Transmission Drivetrain on February 1, 2010
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When Dodge resurrected the Power Wagon name in 2005 we, like many of you, were excited about the prospects of this new off-road-ready pickup. Dodge had checked off 99 percent of the ultimate off-road boxes on the build sheet: sway bar disconnects, front and rear selectable lockers, slightly bigger tires, rock sliders, and even a front winch! Unfortunately for many, Dodge didn't mark off that one important check we all craved, a Cummins diesel engine.

Everyone knows the Cummins diesel is a torque monster of a powerplant, perfect for twisting big tires down the trail. Imagine our excitement when we realized it's now possible to build your own version of the Power Wagon out of a diesel Ram 2500 or 3500 pickup.

The Power Wagon came with a 10 1/2-inch AAM rear axle, while the diesel trucks come with a massive 11 1/2-inch AAM rear axle, and for the longest time only the factory limited slip was available. Then recently Detroit and Yukon Gear both offered a fulltime locker, but we still wanted the same select-ability that the Power Wagon offered. Luckily ARB has just released the first selectable Air Locker for the AAM rear (ARB already had the front AAM 9.25 in production) and we saw our dream diesel truck coming together.

The AAM 11.5 isn't just a Dodge thing. In fact, it was first offered in the back of many '01 GM trucks with the Duramax and 8.1L big-block. Since these same trucks came with the AAM 9.25 IFS front axle, you can now outfit them with both front and rear ARB air lockers as well. The IFS AAM 9.25 uses the same ARB air locker as the Dodge solid axle AAM 9.25 front axle, and the Dodge AAM front is a perfect candidate in case you want to swap in a solid axle down the road. Better yet, order up a complete Power Wagon front axle from Mopar at your local Dodge dealership with 4.56 gears, front selectable AAM locker, and speed sensors that work with the GM computer for that late-model solid axle swap. Adding a winch bumper isn't hard either, so you could very easily build a GM trail machine.

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