1998.5 Dodge Ram CTD - Sally

frojoe

Adventurer
Thanks guys! I guess the progress and choices seem simple and straight forward to me because I simply can't envision modifying it in any other style, and I'm stoked that people are liking the more stealthy/integrated theme vs big bold bumpers and really obviously aftermarket.. not like I have much money for buying lots of expensive aftermarket doodads haha.

The mudflaps are Husky Long John mudflaps, 12" wide by 36" long. I liked how they have the long thin section to really secure it to the flares vs a more traditional rectangular flap just hanging off the back of the wheel well by a couple screws. For the front, I did stick the mud flaps outboard about an inch and cut a taper to make them blend into the front flare, as the front flares don't quite fully cover the tires width-wise.

https://www.amazon.ca/Husky-Liners-Universal-Long-Flare/dp/B01ASNFE0E
 

frojoe

Adventurer
I've wanted to replace the 3rd brake light for a while because one of the brake bulbs was burned out, and the translucent lenses for the bed cargo lights are terribly dim. Looked for a LED unit to match my tail lights in brightness and reaction time, and something with a clear lens for the cargo lights for maximum lighting.. after searching Amazon and eBay for a while, the least ricey/atrocious one was this guy..



Was a little bummed to discover it wasn't a direct plug-in and I needed to hardwire the new LED brake light wiring to the stock wiring, but I guess for how cheap it was it's par for the course..



So I just go splice away..



It was going all fine and light tested well, until I handled it a bit too much during testing and the light stopped working, fiddled with the wires a bit and sonofabitch.. the cheap thing just completely unsoldered itself from the LED circuit board..



Naturally the lens needed to be disassembled to access the circuit boards, and of course as careful as I was I still broke it in two places..



The ground wire was previously soldered to the board on the left, and have a look at the positive wiring around the solder..



A gentle test-yank and..



So whatever, rip all the junk China wiring off it and re-solder with some legitimate TXL wire..







Since after gluing the lens back on the cracks were super visible, I decided to paint the perimeter semi-gloss black to sorta match the LED tail lights..







The clear/chrome look still sticks out a bit, but the brightness of the cargo lights at night as well as the brightness of the LED brake light far outweigh that, I think..



And we're off on a 4-truck camping excursion in T-minus 6 hours.. will report back with some pics of a neat trip soon!
 

Tex68w

Beach Bum
Great build OP, best 2nd Gen build I've seen! I love how simple it is, yet it is well thought out and rugged. I am assuming with the addition of the headache rack, that you've decided to ditch the camper shell in favor of an open bed? After running both, what's your verdict between the two? I ask because I am debating the pros and cons of both for my new F-250 build. Keep up the good work, I am sub'd so that I can continue to follow this build.
 

frojoe

Adventurer
Great build OP, best 2nd Gen build I've seen! I love how simple it is, yet it is well thought out and rugged. I am assuming with the addition of the headache rack, that you've decided to ditch the camper shell in favor of an open bed? After running both, what's your verdict between the two? I ask because I am debating the pros and cons of both for my new F-250 build. Keep up the good work, I am sub'd so that I can continue to follow this build.
Thanks for the kind words! I figure that the headache rack will just come off when the canopy goes on for less-optimal-weather camping.. the rack is only 4 bolts and are very easy to access.. so more like an unbolt one to bolt on the other situation. I originally thought of making a headache rack that has the outside posts outboard of where the canopy would be, and locate the rack between the canopy glass and the cab rear glass.. but the material would have to be too thin to be strong enough out of aluminum, and I anticipate it getting used a lot so really don't want to be constantly scratching up painted steel.

I like having the lockable space of the canopy, but for dirt bikes or hauling stuff for friends or even just jamming 4-5 mtb's on the tailgate then closing it, no canopy is the clear winner. Eventually I'd like to have a shop setup where I can mount the canopy to lifting tabs/jig and just winch it vertically up into the rafters and out of the way, however now it's stored on its side with a tarp over it next to the garage. I think if it were that much easier to drop down onto the back of the truck, I would 100% use it more for almost any camping trip, but now that it's a bit more of a hassle to pull out and install for just a 2 day getaway I simply don't use it as much as it could be used.

Great build..... Any chance of getting a part number for that Mopar steering shaft...
Thanks
The Mopar shaft P/N is 55351113AG.. after logging 190km of baaad forest service road this past weekend I'm sooo glad that I swapped back over to a new OEM steering shaft.. it is really hard to describe exactly how much less NVH the Mopar unit transmits compared to the Borgeson unit, and it doesn't feel like the rag joint is adding any perceivable "squishiness" to the steering wheel feel.
 

jreilly2120

New member
This truck has singlehandedly convinced me to get a gen 2 5 speed, rather than a gen 3 auto CTD. Love the build. Post more pictures!
 

frojoe

Adventurer
Thanks! Braapping up 20-30% grades in 4-hi with 4 people in it and a bed full of strapped-down camping gear, 4th gear, 50-70 km/hour, and the turbo is whistling and the engine/tires are just grunting along going WUUUUHHHHHHHHHHRRRRHHHHHHUUUHHHHHH... it's awesome. I think this past trip made me fall back in love with the truck all over again.

Unfortunately my girlfriend and I haven't really been camping much this summer due to work and going to weddings, but also it's been so dry up here in BC that many camp spots have been closed, no campfires allowed since probably May, offroad vehicles have been banned since maybe July.. and the lingering smoke from so many wildfires has really just made it unappealing. We're planning on making up for it come Oct/Nov once some rain comes in and makes the dirt moist, and the campfire ban gets lifted.
 

RoyJ

Adventurer
Thanks! Braapping up 20-30% grades in 4-hi with 4 people in it and a bed full of strapped-down camping gear, 4th gear, 50-70 km/hour, and the turbo is whistling and the engine/tires are just grunting along going WUUUUHHHHHHHHHHRRRRHHHHHHUUUHHHHHH... it's awesome. I think this past trip made me fall back in love with the truck all over again.
That's impressive!

My V10 auto can't touch that, especially with 3.54s. In fact, I had to get a 2wd Lo kit so I could climb FSR grades in 2nd or 3rd with converter fully locked. In Hi range I can't lock 2nd. I do have a Bigfoot camper on the back though...
 

frojoe

Adventurer
I may have exaggerated a bit.. the uphill parts I wasn't doing 70, but probably closer to 50km/hr maintained up those moderately steep grades.. the truck just shimmies a bit side to side but just keeps clawing and wanting to go. 15psi at 1800rpm is a great spot for the engine.. a slight dab of the throttle and it just wants to spike to 25+psi and go-go-go. Even the girls on the trip (who self-admittedly have no clue about anything automotive) were like.. "wow this thing seems to be handling this road and hills really well".

The truck has 75hp injectors, factory clutch and Holset HX35 turbo, and the programmer is always set to just Stage 3 ("Driving") out of a possible 5 performance levels, and it's crazy to me to read online guys that are like "these things are a turd, it needs at least 650hp with 50psi boost to be fast, blah blah"... yeah well all things considered I'm totally content with its highway peppiness loaded down to ~9000lbs.
 

frojoe

Adventurer
Tex68w's question about the future of the canopy got me thinking.. lately I've been pondering what to do with the canopy as it's very scratched and sun-faded on the top, so I'm not particularly married to keeping it unmodified. By this I mean I really have no reservations about drilling holes in the roof and fastening/sealing brackets for low-profile roof cross bars, which at the least would hold a 270-degree awning on one side, but potentially in the future hold a low-perimeter roof rack as well, if we need a bit extra storage room.

I've been wanting to clean up the carpet liner on the inside, epoxy glue some brackets/tabs on the ceiling to serve as locations to hang mesh shelves for storing water, phone, book, headlamp etc while sleeping in the back. I certainly need to give all the window seals a once-over and replace or re-seal as needed.. and replace the window mesh screens which have many duct-taped tears in them.

I can't even recall the make of the canopy anymore, but has anybody come across any threads of interest describing side glass seal maintenance/repair, or any interesting modifications to a canopy shell such as bolting/riveting/bonding/sealing brackets directly to the fiberglass shell, etc?
 

Tex68w

Beach Bum
Tex68w's question about the future of the canopy got me thinking.. lately I've been pondering what to do with the canopy as it's very scratched and sun-faded on the top, so I'm not particularly married to keeping it unmodified. By this I mean I really have no reservations about drilling holes in the roof and fastening/sealing brackets for low-profile roof cross bars, which at the least would hold a 270-degree awning on one side, but potentially in the future hold a low-perimeter roof rack as well, if we need a bit extra storage room.

I've been wanting to clean up the carpet liner on the inside, epoxy glue some brackets/tabs on the ceiling to serve as locations to hang mesh shelves for storing water, phone, book, headlamp etc while sleeping in the back. I certainly need to give all the window seals a once-over and replace or re-seal as needed.. and replace the window mesh screens which have many duct-taped tears in them.

I can't even recall the make of the canopy anymore, but has anybody come across any threads of interest describing side glass seal maintenance/repair, or any interesting modifications to a canopy shell such as bolting/riveting/bonding/sealing brackets directly to the fiberglass shell, etc?
I have dreams of running a shell on my 2017 F-250 for more storage, security, and a place to sleep when I am running solo. The quote I received for a Snugtop Super Sport with the Sportsman HD roof (500 lbs) and Yakima rack tracks was $3300, ouch. I don't know if it's just me, but I think that's rather steep for a fiberglass camper. For $1000 more I can get a commercial spec aluminum topper with fold up/out sides and rear doors. I love the look of the camper on a lifted truck and there's no denying what they offer to you in terms of added space/storage, security, and a place for you or your dogs to sleep. That said, they don't block out dust very well, they always seem to leak (even when new), they have crap resale, and they limit your visibility and ability to tow a 5th wheel without a cumbersome removal process.

I have been looking into a Leitner Rack or a low mount bed rack from the likes of Frontrunner or someone similar as an alternative. If I go that route I lower my COG and my cost by over half that of the camper, but I lose the enclosed security and place to sleep and keep things dry. Regardless of which way I go, I will need some sort of bed drawer system in order to manage my gear when traveling.

In your case, you already have the camper, so I would rehab it, add a set of tracks for a roof rack system and rock on.
 

frojoe

Adventurer
That sounds like a cool setup. I totally get the camper appeal, but the weight and top-heavy-ness vs just sleeping in the back.. I dunno, the girlfriend and I have really grown fond of just sleeping on the platform in the back. Even moreso than the thought of a rooftop tent.. regardless of the cost or popularity (read: necessity in order to be truly "overlandy"), and then there's the added weight that high up on what I would still want to be a soft suspension setup. IF I were to ever RTT, I think I would likely put the RTT above the canopy (versus fabricate the common half-height bed rack and have the bed now exposed to the elements) and utilize the canopy as extra dry storage. Unless I made a canvas or other cover to snap under the half-height rack and over the bed rails, to keep water out of the bed.. oi so many options.

I may take some dimensions of the canopy and see what I can model up in 3D for a rack or rail setup.. I'm liking the idea of a 270-degree side awning more and more.. maybe a big one mounted forward on the canopy so it covered the driver's side front and back doors, and then covered the canopy back glass. That's another thing I would like to do.. add drip rails to the back of the canopy so that rain landing on the top or on the back glass doesn't run and drip between the glass and the canopy when the glass is open.
 
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