1998.5 Dodge Ram CTD - Sally

Tex68w

Beach Bum
I see the appeal of sleeping in the back of the camper as the camper shell Gods intended, but if you have that area full of your gear it makes it hard to easily sleep back there without constantly packing and unpacking every evening. The Softtopper over the bed height rack with the RTT mounted isn't a bad idea and then the bed is only exposed to the elements when the Softtopper is lowered to allow the RTT to be deployed at night. The only problem there is ugly and awkward Softtopper.

Another option would be a bed cover like the Retrax or BakFlip Revolver X2 that can roll out of the way underneath the low mount bed rack while still keeping your bed secure and dry/clean. The only issue I see there is that most of the low bed mount racks require access to the inside of the bed and bed rails for mounting hardware which would ultimately make the bed cover impossible to use in conjunction. So yea, you'd have to make something custom and the way it'd have to cover the side of the bed rails will likely lead to something that isn't that appealing.

The Bat Wing style canopies that cover multiple sides and angles are definitely becoming more popular and IMHO are the way to go if they work with your application. As of right now, the camper shell is looking to be a cost deterrent and fear of failure. How long have you been running yours, any issues? Im sure the added weight of a rack and RTT with occupants would lead to a shorter lifespan.
 

frojoe

Adventurer
I see the appeal of sleeping in the back of the camper as the camper shell Gods intended, but if you have that area full of your gear it makes it hard to easily sleep back there without constantly packing and unpacking every evening. The Softtopper over the bed height rack with the RTT mounted isn't a bad idea and then the bed is only exposed to the elements when the Softtopper is lowered to allow the RTT to be deployed at night. The only problem there is ugly and awkward Softtopper.

Another option would be a bed cover like the Retrax or BakFlip Revolver X2 that can roll out of the way underneath the low mount bed rack while still keeping your bed secure and dry/clean. The only issue I see there is that most of the low bed mount racks require access to the inside of the bed and bed rails for mounting hardware which would ultimately make the bed cover impossible to use in conjunction. So yea, you'd have to make something custom and the way it'd have to cover the side of the bed rails will likely lead to something that isn't that appealing.

The Bat Wing style canopies that cover multiple sides and angles are definitely becoming more popular and IMHO are the way to go if they work with your application. As of right now, the camper shell is looking to be a cost deterrent and fear of failure. How long have you been running yours, any issues? Im sure the added weight of a rack and RTT with occupants would lead to a shorter lifespan.
When you're saying camper shell, are you meaning the fiberglass canopy like what I have? I presume so. I haven't had any issues so far, other than an occasional passenger side window seal leak under decent rainfall, and wobbly gas strut brackets for the rear glass on the fiberglass side.. I'll have to drill out the rivets and make some beefier brackets and bolt them on. The shell is very used, and the fading and peeling clearcoat on the top shows that, but structurally it seems sound. I wouldn't want to add 100's of pounds of weight to it.. whatever rack system I make for it would just be to bolt lighter things to the side of the canopy, or maybe an extra bin or two on top as emergency overflow storage.

For what we've done for sleeping in the back, it's actually really quick to get in and sleep. The foamie mattress is about the size of a twin bed, but folds into 3 segments. So what we did if we needed extra space, is leave the mattress in place on the sleeping platform (complete with bedding and pillows and sheets) and simply fold up the last 3rd of the bed (end closest to the tailgate) and use that flat platform to strap a couple totes to.. we're pretty happy with that setup so far.

I do like the idea of covering the bed under a half-rack, but I'd worry about water ingress with any canvas or roll up system unless the topper covers/overlaps most of the width of the bed rails, for which I'd have to make sure the mounting plates and design of the half-rack is outside of the bedrails. I like canvas or even a custom aluminum short box (imagine a 75%-size version of a contractor box, but with a well-defined and modifiable exo-skeleton. I'm not sure I would run a roll up or flip back tonneau cover, as the engineer in me would just hate to see a wasted ~1' of height between the bed rails and the half-rack underside.. if I wanted that extra height for keeping things dry.


Rereading this while waiting for Irma - how's that rear seat space? Can you fit a couple adults pretty well?
The rear seat space is pretty good. If I slide my driver seat a couple inches forward then a normal-proportioned 6'0" guy can fit on th edriver's side of the back seat with his knees spread or angled to the side. On the passenger side, there's more leg room in the front (no steering wheel and pedals) so I've had a similar size buddy slide the front passenger seat all the way forward, and it looked pretty comfortable for the guys in the front & back on that side. The only tight area is the rear middle seat.. the middle arm rest prettymuch needs to be down for anyone bigger than 5'4" to fit their knees in the middle back seat. but with the arm rest down I've had a ~5'7" friend fit comfortably for a roadtrip. But my truck still ends up being the shuttle rig of choice when cramming 4-6 biker buddies in it because the rest of them have smaller Tacomas... I have no idea how more than 2 people fit in the back of one of those, haha.
 

frojoe

Adventurer
How many miles do you have on the Firestone MT's? How are they wearing?
I haven't taken a caliper to my tire treads recently, but eyeballing it I would say there's approximately if not more than half the tread depth left after ~25,000 km.. I believe the knobs are quite hard, which makes sense as the tires are surprisingly quiet for a 35" (closer to 34") MT tire. I'll dig up and share my tread depth measurements from the last time I rotated the tires ~2000km ago.
 

Shradicalwyo

Adventurer
For what we've done for sleeping in the back, it's actually really quick to get in and sleep. The foamie mattress is about the size of a twin bed, but folds into 3 segments. So what we did if we needed extra space, is leave the mattress in place on the sleeping platform (complete with bedding and pillows and sheets) and simply fold up the last 3rd of the bed (end closest to the tailgate) and use that flat platform to strap a couple totes to.. we're pretty happy with that setup so far.

This is exactly what we do in my Tundra, and we have plenty of room for my gf, the dog and I. We just move the cooler and any food to the front seats. It's slightly annoying having to move stuff around to setup just to go to sleep but the only other option for us would be a slide-in camper. I don't really like any of the roof tents I've used, although I'd like to try out a hard shell model (Our dog likes sleeping with us too much to not be next to us). I'd still rather sleep in the truck with the mattress than use a ground tent.
 

frojoe

Adventurer
Cool! I had always thought those tires would last forever based on how hard the lugs are.
So far so good!

This is exactly what we do in my Tundra, and we have plenty of room for my gf, the dog and I. We just move the cooler and any food to the front seats. It's slightly annoying having to move stuff around to setup just to go to sleep but the only other option for us would be a slide-in camper. I don't really like any of the roof tents I've used, although I'd like to try out a hard shell model (Our dog likes sleeping with us too much to not be next to us). I'd still rather sleep in the truck with the mattress than use a ground tent.
I totally agree.. I mean I already have the canopy and to sleep with the platform I then have a ghetto storage bin system... so I have a hard time mentally justifying $2-3k more for a RTT+half rack+bed slide or storage system. Plus this way the truck remains a super sleeper.. just looks like a dirty diesel with a canopy on the back!
 

seanpistol

Explorer
Are there pressure relief vents behind the back seat? Is it louder in the cab with the back seat removed?

Just bought a 2nd gen Cummins on 37s and I think my dog would appreciate the back seat removed so he doesn't have to jump so high!
 

frojoe

Adventurer
Are there pressure relief vents behind the back seat? Is it louder in the cab with the back seat removed?

Just bought a 2nd gen Cummins on 37s and I think my dog would appreciate the back seat removed so he doesn't have to jump so high!
There are rubber-flap relief vents in the bottom of the rear doors, behind the plastic door panels. The back of the cab behind the rear seat back is just single-layer stamped sheet metal, no insulation and no venting.. and as far as I could tell it wasn't really much louder, however I am thinking about adding sound insulation to the whole back of the cab to maybe quiet it a touch, in addition to anything the rear seat may in fact do.
 

GabAlmighty

Observer
Just read the entire thread. Love the truck and you have definitely done an excellent job with it! I used to have a 2nd gen with the nv5600 but it was an utter piece of ****. You name it, it probably broke on that truck. And all it did was live on the freeway from Port Moody to Abbotsford while I was in university haha, I've come to the conclusion that it was a lemon.

Wicked truck and look forward to seeing more progress on it!
 

frojoe

Adventurer
Thanks! That daily drive you mentioned is definitely a lot of highway.. it's a shame yours fell apart like it did!
 

frojoe

Adventurer
No real news on the truck... I think as a project it's going to go stale until spring as I simply ran out of time to make progress on the rear leaf swap, and now it's all cold and rainy up north here so even if I did get the brackets welded and painted, I don't think I'd have an opportunity to install before spring. I defintely plan on some snow wheeling this winter, so maybe I'll be able to tell some tales of that.

Not ExPo related, but wintertime is when the focus gets shifted to the project car. Progress started last weekend and will ramp up this weekend (hopefully), I've got grand plans of a complete engine bay overhaul on my '72 Nova, complete with a ginormous cooling system and twins. Where I got to last weekend was mocking up an old blown up T4 frame turbo on the driver side..





For anyone interested, the car has been a good 8 year project that's been a huge learning process for me as prettymuch everything I know about fabrication I taught myself while building this car, and its build thread is approaching 600,000 views over here:

https://ls1tech.com/forums/conversions-hybrids/980909-lq4-into-3rd-gen-1972-nova.html
 

t.Sparks

Observer
Where did you end out getting those fender flares? I have looked high and low but can not find them. The front flares really look good. Thanks!
 

frojoe

Adventurer
Where did you end out getting those fender flares? I have looked high and low but can not find them. The front flares really look good. Thanks!
The flares are from Street Scene, in the link below. Out of the box they fit very well and didn't need any trimming or even flexing or twisting to align them, however the thin 3M double-sided foam tape they came with started to unstick on some of the flares after maybe only 6 months. I've been too lazy to remedy yet, but looking into it there seems to be a thicker 2-sided foam tape which may help them stay on better with vibration and stuff, vs the thinner foam tape they came with and I installed.

http://www.streetsceneeq.com/dodge-ram-94-2001-fender-flare-set-urethane.html

The truck that inspired me for color-matched flares and overall stance was this one..

http://www.cumminsforum.com/forum/4th-gen-tire-wheel/259656-official-wheel-tire-backspace-offset-fitment-thread-11.html#post5516823





 
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