Question: I work for Massachusetts Forest Fire Control and the truck that I use is an '08 Ford F-350. My question is regarding the shock mounts. They hang down 5 inches below the rear axle, which as you know, is useless for off-road driving. My truck also carries 225 gallons of water and various other tools. Would a lift kit handle this weight, and if so, what can I do with the shock mounts?
Three Rivers, MA
Answer: Yes, they hang down a bit below the axle, but most are held on by U-bolts, so just loosen them and rotate them up level with the axletube. Five minutes and easy to do, but it will limit how long a shock can go in there, even after the lift. I have come across some that are welded on, and for this it is still fairly simple to rotate them up, but some grinding and welding are required.
As to the lift kit, I knew just where to ask because I knew that Cage Off Road (866/587-CAGE, wwwcageoffroad.com) had some Super Duty trucks weighing 16,000 pounds serving in Iraq. I checked with VP Jim Cole, and he said that there should be no problem with that weight and their Cage Off Road Suspension lift: "I believe the F-350 has a load capacity over 5,000 pounds, so it sounds like he is right in line with the GVW. We build our bracketry out of 3/8- and 5/16-inch laser-cut plate steel for these heavy uses. The new one 1-ton trucks have a tremendous capacity, so it is important to build the lift components to match. We overbuild our product, strength wise, for those people who really go out and use their vehicle to its capacity, as we do ourselves."
I am sure that there are other companies out there that have also addressed this problem with their suspension lifts. Wouldn't be a bad idea for you to contact them directly and ask if their suspension kits are really up to maximum load capacity.
Question: While using my Warn 8274 winch in deep mud, my negative battery cable melted off the top of my battery. I use a two-battery setup: One for starting, and one for winching. Both batteries and isolator are behind the back seat of my Jeep. I use welding cable for both the winch and starter. The stud bolt melted right out of the top of the battery. What would cause this?
George Geyer Jr.
Answer: My guess is that you had a bad connection at the battery terminal/post that was causing a lot of resistance to electrical current flow in the form of voltage drop. Resistance produces heat. In reality, it doesn't take much corrosion to cause this. When the volts drop, the amp draw goes higher to maintain the same performance in watt usage (volts x amps = watts). You mentioned that you were winching out of deep mud. My guess is that you were working the winch near maximum amp draw. If you came close to the "stall point" of the winch motor, amp draw would be even higher.
I also checked this out with Steve Schoenfelder, a customer service rep with Warn, and he had the same opinion, as well as bringing up a couple more points: "Batteries behind the seats? They're a long way from the winch, and voltage drop increases with longer cables. Welding cable: what size? At Warn, we use 2-gauge for 6-foot lengths, and 1-gauge for 12-foot lengths. Is the cable sized properly for the distance from the battery to the winch? The cable connections should be crimped with the proper tool or soldered to the cable, not with cheap battery clamps."
Steve also brought up a point worth mentioning to other readers and one I have seen happen first-hand. You generally should never hook a winch to the side terminal of a battery that has both top and side terminal connections. The side terminals do not have a heavy-enough connecting strip to handle a high-amp electrical draw and can very easily melt right out of the battery case.