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1998 Dodge Ram Quad Cab - Orange Peel

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on December 9, 2004
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Andy Liedtka of Crosswicks, New Jersey knows a thing or three about trucks. His knowledge was accumulated through years of working in the excavating business, a business in which a four-wheel-drive pickup truck is more than just a mode of transportation. Often, these versatile vehicles are used as all-terrain offices and parts-support rigs that must be able to reliably and capably haul occupants and equipment through brutal terrain day after day. Clearly, this type of abuse quickly ferrets out weak components, leaving only the strong items intact. Over the years, Liedtka took note of what worked and what didn't, and applied this accumulation of knowledge to his own '98 3/4-ton Dodge Ram Quad Cab turbodiesel, which serves as his daily ride to work as well as grocery-getter and trail play vehicle.

First, he installed a set of Cummins high-output injectors, which are said to create a 40hp increase. Then he installed a Power Edge EZ computer, which offers an advertised increase of 65 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. He completed the upgrades with a custom 4-inch turbo-to-tailpipe exhaust system by Mufflex in Hamilton, New Jersey and by installing a free-flowing K&N air filter. These mods netted him the increase in horsepower and torque he was looking for, helping to generate an estimated 360 hp and 680 lb-ft of torque.

Liedtka desired to increase the performance of the stock 24-valve 5.9L turbodiesel engine, so to determine the best course of action he consulted with several companies that specialize in diesel engine modifications. In its stock form, the engine generated 235 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, which was adequate; but Liedtka wanted more. His first thought was of a radical re-do of the engine to create massive torque and horsepower, but he was concerned about compromising the trusty Cummins' life span. After conferring with several shops, he opted for more conservative modifications that included the installation of components that do not exceed the limits of the truck's powertrain design.

Behind the engine is the stock five-speed transmission. It was beefed with a grippier Centerforce clutch to handle the increased power. Torque is split to the Dana 60 front axle and the Dana 80 rear axle via an NP241 transfer case. The axle ratio is a tall 3.55:1, and Liedtka says that thanks to the prodigious torque of the Cummins, this gearing works well, even with the addition of the tall 39x18-16.5 Boggers on 16.5x12 Weld Super Single wheels.

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Of course, 39-inch tires won't fit on a stock Ram, so Liedtka put together a custom kit that provides 6 1/2 inches of added height. He began with a Skyjacker 4 1/2-inch kit, but created another 2 inches of lift by adding 2-inch spacers to the front coils and 2-inch spacer blocks to the rear leaves. Dual Skyjacker Hydro shocks reside at each corner of the front axle and single Skyjacker Hydro shocks are bolted to each corner of the rear axle. An 8-inch dropped pitman arm and dual Skyjacker steering stabilizers round out the suspension mods.

A 3-inch body lift was installed to create even more room for the big tires, and then the truck was turned over to Auto Body By Duie in Yardville, New Jersey for the striking House of Kolor Orange paint job.

Inside the truck, Liedtka found things to be comfortable and functional, so he added only Auto Meter turbo-boost and exhaust-temp gauges to monitor critical engine functions and an Alpine head unit and JL Audio Stealth box to provide entertainment while driving.

Thanks to help from friends John and Keith Zimmerman, Christopher Raulf, Caleb Van Arsdale and Gary Walker, Andy Liedtka has created a truck he calls "Orange Peel." It fills his need for a truck with ample power, real-world functionality and head-turning good looks.


Owner: Andy Liedtka, Crosswicks, New Jersey
Vehicle model: '98 3/4-ton Dodge Ram Quad Cab
Estimated value: $40,000

Type: 5.9L 24-valve Cummins turbodiesel
Aspiration: Fuel injection, high-performance fuel injectors, K&N air filter, 4-inch exhaust, Power Edge EZ computer

Transmission: Five-speed, Centerforce clutch
Transfer case: NP241

Front: Skyjacker 4 1/2-inch lift, dual Skyjacker Hydro shock absorbers, 8-inch drop pitman arm, dual Skyjacker steering stabilizers
Rear: Skyjacker 4 1/2-inch lift, 2-inch spacers, single Skyjacker Hydro shock absorbers

Front: Dana 60
Rear: Dana 80, factory limited-slip differential
Ring-and-pinion: 3.55:1

Wheels (in.): 16.5x12 Weld Super Single
Tires: 39x18-16.5 Boggers

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