1998.5 Dodge Ram CTD - Sally


Thanks guys... just hoping my work helps or inspires someone along the lines. These 2nd gens don't get too much attention when we're talking about proper suspension setup, vs someone just throwing the cheapest 6" lift and pokey tires on.
If I just had a fraction of your talent 😳

Your truck is unreal


Hey guys, anyone can do some or most of this!! I'm just been persistent enough to keep practicing this for years and years, and getting more confident and knowledgeable in the process of design and execution.

If anyone has any specific comments or question, feel free to fire away.

I've almost 99% decided I'm going to try to get 37"x12.5" tires (Toyo MT) to fit on it, with proper clearances at full articulation... and not raise it.
I've almost 99% decided I'm going to try to get 37"x12.5" tires (Toyo MT) to fit on it, with proper clearances at full articulation... and not raise it.
Looking forward to what you come up with, I've always liked the low lift/big tires look and better ride dynamics inherent in the design.


Looking forward to what you come up with, I've always liked the low lift/big tires look and better ride dynamics inherent in the design.
That's the plan... try to keep this truck looking as "OEM+" as possible... which also includes trying to reduce the tire-fender gaps as much as possible haha.


Another thing I did recently was beef up my rear lighting.

For a handful of years I've had work/scene lights from SuperBrightLED's, that were a wide-angle (120 degrees) that had no lense. This spread the light very wide, with a crisp cutoff, but the intensity wasn't really there... but they were just cheap Chinese lights so whatever. These are 1350 lumens per single LED/housing.

To improve this, I decided to rejig these wide-angle lights for where they are better suited... close proximity and wide coverage, aimed down and outboard.

To supplement this, I got Baja Designs work/scene lights, which I believe are a tighter 60 degree field, but a WAY brighter 2350 lumens per single LED/housing, which are aimed more or less back.. for improved distance and 20ft+ illumination.

This is just the cheap wide-angle lights, aimed as far down as I can go before I started sacrificing coverage at the 10ft-back and 15ft-outboard area... essentially trail-side immediately behind the truck...

There is clearly a dead spot in the center... but the radiant light is still surprisingly bright...

Here is the Baja Designs lights aimed directly back... much better center coverage, but these alone leave a big dark spot in the ~4ft behind the rear tires...

And here is both together.. strong rear lighting 50ft back from the truck, pretty good illumination of the ground up to ~1ft behind the rear tire.. and good "tree coverage" at a ~60degree angle outboard from the corners of the bumper....

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Another kind of "OEM+" mod I wanted to do, was try this whole Ram Mount thing in a low-profile way. I've wanted to get a hanging mount for my handheld radio, and it would be convenient to have a place to mount my phone for off-road too. Ram Mounts must be popular for a reason, so I thought I'd give them a go.... but I really didn't want to be cutting notches and drilling/screwing into my nice-condition instrument bezel/trim plastic, that'd be too easy and common of an installation method.

To make the setup modular, but most importantly to micro-adjust the arms as well as the ability to quickly remove the arms, I wanted to try the Ram tracking system instead of several individual ball mount bases.

After initial rough mockup, looked like I could get an arrangement that would clear the stick shift knob in all gears, even with the shorty mount arms...

I ended up using an 1/8" thick 1.25"x1.25" angle iron as the rigid base bracket to snake behind the bottom edge of the plastic trim, so I didn't have to cut the plastic trim piece.

I milled an aluminum "adapter" plate that mounts to the full width of the track for rigidity. This plate also meant I could mill its backside at an angle to adjust the final track angle, relative to the steel angle-iron which was more or less at a fixed angle due to the clearance required at the plastic trim's edge.

The reason for the cutout on the left side of the angle iron is to clear the top edge of the pivoting drop-down ashtray/coin compartment.



Last week had to go recover a coworker's brother's Tacoma.. stuck in iced up slushy snow with worn 31" all terrains, rear chains, and highway air pressures. Was nice to get out in the forest for a bit, albeit rushing to not run out of sunlight and the resulting warmth haha.

There's a few areas off the switchbacky climbing service road that you can have some fun on. I continue to be impressed with the smooth capabilities of this truck, given that while the suspension may be highly modified for suppleness, the suspension design as a whole as well as the driveline is not far from the stock stuff... it's just like OEM+ kind of functionality.

And looks like I tested the bash guard design of the passenger rear shock mount for the first time....

Nice muddy side shot showing that "low" ride height I've worked so hard to maintain, while keeping full suspension functionality without any rubbing.

Just for the sake of variety, I trimmed my tailpipe too. I could tell by the black paint that scraped off, that I've been hitting it often. Also since it previously stuck out so dang far, that really highlighted how much vertical gap there was to the "clearance dent" that the tailpipe made in the bedside, after one biiiiiiig rock impact.

I wasn't sure whether I wanted to cut all the way back to axle dump it... so started with a mild trim back flush with the bedside, and I quite like it. Kinda looks a bit sportier.. maybe a little bit of a stock-tip look to it too.

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Renaissance Redneck
Looking good Joe. We should have a CF meet-up and see if we can give Smokin’ Joe the Corona.... Oh, but everything’s closed. Oh well:)

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The final thing I needed to fab up for "this round" of the suspension was the rear bump stops, to save those nice rear Kings. Judging by the dust lines on the shafts, I've used up to the last 3/4" of shock shaft, so good to add some progressive bump protection for even the mild-moderate driving I've been doing.

For simplicity, I wanted to use the existing bump stop mounting holes on the frame. I also didn't want to use hydro bump stops, although they would have been a bit cheaper. From what I've heard, and what my mind is telling me... the quiet engagement of these urethane Boogie Bumps should be the biggest benefit.

Their squishy design also means that the mounting bracket can be directly above it to keep all the forces in line... if I went to an air bump, the height of the cylinder as well as the clamping collar/sleeve means I'd have to bracket off the side... which means the mount holding it wants to twist the frame when the cylinder is compressed.. so triangulation and reinforcement would likely be needed to prevent the frame failing due to twist loading it was never meant to continuously handle.

I have 3/4" lateral distance between the bump stop "adapter block" and the leaf spring top plate... by the time the leaf gets to that area, the main leaf should be damn near flat... I'm hoping that I'm not bottoming out or flexing the suspension while sideloading the leaf enough to laterally bend the pack 3/4". That said, if I see witness marks from impact, I can angle-cut the bump mount blocks and move the bump stop inboard another inch or so.

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Killer truck, just read through most of your build. Funny how it started with cheap shocks and a spacer lift and ended up with 2.5” kings on custom mounts. Sounds familiar haha. Saw this picture and I think I have one from the same turnout.
I got goosebumps looking at your Alcan pics. I want to do it again so bad. Awesome truck. 🍻



Killer truck, just read through most of your build. Funny how it started with cheap shocks and a spacer lift and ended up with 2.5” kings on custom mounts. Sounds familiar haha. Saw this picture and I think I have one from the same turnout.
I got goosebumps looking at your Alcan pics. I want to do it again so bad. Awesome truck. 🍻
Heck yes, and thanks! Your truck is (was?) super awesome... I've read thru your thread a couple times. I guess the suspension upgrades have just been natural progression. I generally try not to opt for the cheapest stuff.. but at the time a 2.5" level via spacer, and Pro Comp shocks didn't seem like a terribly bad idea or waste of money... however in hindsight.. well....... haha. Plus the engineer side of me also has needed this thing to iterate as I get to know its limitations.


When I originally made the spare tire holder and the "utility tray" aka the cooler holder, 12V fridge holder, or jerry can holder.. I thought it would only be in the bed for long roadtrips. Well it was so handy having a quick-strap flat spot to secure something, especially to make use of dead space above a wheel tub, that I've keep the tray in there fulltime for the last 4 years.. and use it the most other than the OBA.

That said, the location of the tray at the back made it a pain to load more than 4 bikes without guaranteed bike contact. I can fit 5-wide on the back, but pedals are absolutely going to smack frame parts.

Also, the top of a 35" tire is now dead-flush with the top of the cab, and that's with the tire simultaneously touching the front-top corner of the wheel tub, as well as prettymuch touching the headache rack. So if I rejigged the holder to fit a 37" tire.. that will then be poking above the top of the cab.

I've used the spare tire a total of once the entire 4 years I've had the 35" tires on the truck. As well, between my regular use of engine compression braking and exhaust-brake braking (to make up for the lack of weight in the back)... my tires literally wear completely evenly on all 4 corners.... so I never had the opportunity or need to rotate in the 5th tire.

So... I'm going to be removing the full-time spare tire holder, and remake the utility tray and move it to the front-driver corner of the bed. I'll make a removable wood bottom for the tray, as well as removable steel bars to support a tire to use it double-duty as as temporary spare holder.

This will let me:
- carry no spare during regular driving, and have the tray for quickly strapping something down
- for a day trip I can either strap a cooler to the tray, or strap a non-matching 37" spare (see below)
- strap the 37" spare to the utility tray if I need to haul something heavy in the bed, and don't want to be without a spare but also don't have room to lay it flat
- for longer trips strap the12V fridge to the tray, and strap the spare flat in the bed



I've also been figuring out what I need to do to clear 37's. I think I can do it without cutting... so if I move my front axle 1" forward (for a total of +1.75" from factory) then the tire will clear the front corner cab... will see.

But I will end up making my own arms. I've been evaluating the suspension of the factory, vs "longer" arms, vs actual true long arms. With my low front ride height (+1.75" higher from stock) my control arms are essentially 10* up from horizontal... which is not much, and honestly rids really well as it is for "short arms".

The amount I'd have to drop the arm mount on the frame side is a good 6" below the frame rail, to get the arms close to horizontal.. that's stuff hanging low off the frame where I really don't want it... especailly if it's like 2ft further rearward from factory.

As a reference point, out of curiosity, here are my current +0.75" control arms mounted to factory arm locations, at my current ride height. The long blue line to the left is the instantaneous center and the resulting virtual swingarm that this 4-link produces.

Here is my current suspension at full compression and full droop, for my 10" King shocks...

Here highlighted in red is the new longer (+1.75" total) arms moving the axle forward +1.0" from where it is now...

This is the arm design that I'm starting with, to be refined further. 2.5"x1.5" rectangular tube to maximize weld length, probably something like 1/4" or 5/16" wall thickness. I'll piecut them to give a clearance bend (unsure how much will be needed to clear the 37's), and add gusseting on the outer side of the bend, since that will be under tension when the arm is being compressed, from front-hitting bumps at speed. I'll use Thuren's weld joints too, as they seem to be good for articulation as well as NVH (compared to heims or Johnny Joints).

And last but not least, the wheels I've settled on are AEV Salta HD's, in black. I like the look.. they have a bit of an offroad-y desert toy appearance but also the right amount of roundness to work with a 90's truck (I think), and most importantly... NO FAKE BEADLOCK BOLTS! And I'll use either Toyo Open Country M/T or Nitto Trail Grappler, in 37x12.5x17 since I reeeeeally dig the narrow-tall tire look vs a 37x13.5....



TL;DR...... can I get suggestions for tool bag companies other than: Blue Ridge Overland, Atlas46, Adventure Tool Company...?

Quarantine boredom leads to reorganization. I carry these recovery straps and shackles under the rear seat full time, which doesn't really make sense, plus I'd like to have that room for other stuff. So I'm organizing recovery as well as trail tools into grab bags to only haul into the truck when heading out into the woods.

I made these 1" straps out of repair bits from the local outdoors/hiking store, to keep the straps bundled tight. I thought about Velcro/hook-and-loop but thought that'd get dirty/muddy/gritty pretty quick, so rejected the idea...

I also want to make a trail running offroad tool kit. Everything here is repurposed from one of my other mobile tool kits, except for the sockets which I purchased at 50% discount and lifetime warranty.

The sockets are 1/2" drive, imperial 7/16" thru 1", and metric 10mm thru 25mm. The box end wrenches are 21mm, 22mm (aka 7/8"), 13/16", and 24mm (aka 15/16") which cover almost every single nut/bolt on my front and rear suspension.

Only things I know I'm missing are:

- one or two smaller needle nose vice grips (for pinching off a cut brake line)
- 8" or 10" flat head screwdriver, to double as aligner or pry bar
- 1/2"+ tapered drift pin for aligning suspension parts
- metal wire for tying off hot things

Can I get some opinions?!?:

Can anyone name or recommend a "tool bag" brand other than these, which I've spent a good amount of time browsing: Atlas46, Blue Ridge Overland, Adventure Tool Company...??? I'm just looking to reserach all options before I order anything.
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@Metcalf makes some good looking bags. I'm sure you could shoot him a PM here or follow him on Instagram @ brennanmetcalf to find out more.

Don't personally own one, but the soft shackles I ordered from him are solid.