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Another 2020 Ram 5500 Flatbed Camper Build

Brad_UT

Well-known member
A few have asked about the AIR SYSTEM:

Dual Viair compressor setup for speed/redundancy, 7.5 gallon tank capacity, Airlift 3P bag controller and semi-automated tire dump/fill. Mostly self explanatory except for a few things:

For airing tires up or down, I've got this crazy idea I'm going to try. Follow me here. Each tire has an air chuck mounted close to it. When you want to air up or down, you connect a short hose whip from the chuck to the tire. Each tire has it's own hose and you connect all four at once. Then you go to the air control panel. The valve is currently in the OFF position. If airing down, move valve to DUMP position. All tires will slowly deflate. Watch tire press gauge to see when to stop. If airing up, first set regulator to new/higher pressure. Turn valve to FILL. Go get a beer - it's going to be a minute. Tires will air up and stop automatically at your set pressure. If this works smoothly, it'll be super convenient. But, I'm assuming all four tires will get the same pressure. If I need to set the front differently then I'll just have to do the front and rears separately.

Each compressor is controlled by a 3-position switch: ACCUAIR - OFF - MANUAL ON. First position means compressors cycle on and off as called for by the Accuair bag controller. If that gizmo fails, flip the switch to the manual position. There, the compressor is cycled on and off by a typical pressure switch connected to tank pressure. In center position, compressor is disabled.

If both compressors fail, there is a Schrader valve to fill the system manually using portable compressor. If the Accuair system fails, I'll keep a 4-into-1 push to connect manifold handy to join all four airbag lines to the output of the regulator. That should get me home. I'll keep a bunch of various spare fittings on hand so it's easy to re-plumb things on the fly.

I originally thought about using the self-relieving feature of the regulator for airing down. This would let you set your "aired down" pressure and walk away without having to watch the gauge. That valve inside the regulator, though, is pretty small. I think it'd take forever to deflate (4) 40" tires.

It's all a bit complicated but I'm a believer that if you use good quality hardware and install it right, you prevent many of the problems other people have. Time will tell.
Air System pg2.jpgAir System pg1.jpgAir System Panel.jpgIMG_3995.JPEGIMG_3996.JPEG
 

McCarthy

Is it riding season yet?
That is ************ if you can get it to work properly! I'd love to see a humvee style central inflation system!
 
A few have asked about the AIR SYSTEM:

Dual Viair compressor setup for speed/redundancy, 7.5 gallon tank capacity, Airlift 3P bag controller and semi-automated tire dump/fill. Mostly self explanatory except for a few things:

For airing tires up or down, I've got this crazy idea I'm going to try. Follow me here. Each tire has an air chuck mounted close to it. When you want to air up or down, you connect a short hose whip from the chuck to the tire. Each tire has it's own hose and you connect all four at once. Then you go to the air control panel. The valve is currently in the OFF position. If airing down, move valve to DUMP position. All tires will slowly deflate. Watch tire press gauge to see when to stop. If airing up, first set regulator to new/higher pressure. Turn valve to FILL. Go get a beer - it's going to be a minute. Tires will air up and stop automatically at your set pressure. If this works smoothly, it'll be super convenient. But, I'm assuming all four tires will get the same pressure. If I need to set the front differently then I'll just have to do the front and rears separately.

Each compressor is controlled by a 3-position switch: ACCUAIR - OFF - MANUAL ON. First position means compressors cycle on and off as called for by the Accuair bag controller. If that gizmo fails, flip the switch to the manual position. There, the compressor is cycled on and off by a typical pressure switch connected to tank pressure. In center position, compressor is disabled.

If both compressors fail, there is a Schrader valve to fill the system manually using portable compressor. If the Accuair system fails, I'll keep a 4-into-1 push to connect manifold handy to join all four airbag lines to the output of the regulator. That should get me home. I'll keep a bunch of various spare fittings on hand so it's easy to re-plumb things on the fly.

I originally thought about using the self-relieving feature of the regulator for airing down. This would let you set your "aired down" pressure and walk away without having to watch the gauge. That valve inside the regulator, though, is pretty small. I think it'd take forever to deflate (4) 40" tires.

It's all a bit complicated but I'm a believer that if you use good quality hardware and install it right, you prevent many of the problems other people have. Time will tell.
View attachment 619042View attachment 619041View attachment 619040View attachment 619043View attachment 619044
You should take a look at the PowerTank monster valves if you haven't already. Would certainly make things faster but you'd need 4 of the chucks if you wanted to do that idea. Sounds cool tho.
 

Brad_UT

Well-known member
I'd love to find a way to do CTIS! That way I wouldn't even have to get out which suits my laziness just fine. The Humvee has geared hubs with a hollow axle shaft which make this kind of easy. DBL has a geared hub kit too. Without that, though, I don't see an easy way. I did consider those Powertank Monster valves, but I would have had to drill another valve stem hole in the rims for that. The factory valve stem hole has the TPMS sensors (which work great) and I'm hanging on to those for sure.

Still waiting on those front axle control arms to come in. Should be ready this week. Hope to be driving it this weekend! FINALLY!

Rear bumper came in. I spent last weekend doing some detail work like drilling more holes, welding brackets, etc. Forgot to take some final pics before sending it off to powder coat yesterday. Considering the height of the flatbed subframe and how the C-channel frame rails stack on top of one another, I think I could have moved the bumper up 5-6" or so. As it is, I will have a gap between the bottom of the bed and the top of the bumper. Not too worried about that, but the more ground clearance under the bumper, the better.
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Also started on a super trick mounting system for the iPad/GPS and phone. Made from 1/2" DOM tubing TIG welded with ram ball mounts. It mounts to the front console bolt and passenger seat frame and then follows the curvature of the dash up to an anchor point in the tray above the radio. More to come on that when it gets back from powdercoat.
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Brad_UT

Well-known member
FRONT SUSPENSION (Part 1)
I knew the combination of a Kelderman front airbag setup combined with a lift and moving the axle forward was going to be an adventure into uncharted waters. There are no kits for this and there isn't any info I've found on the web. My goal is to do as little modification as possible to have clearance from steering lock to lock and at any suspension height. So I'm doing this one step at a time, figuring out what I need to do as I go along.

At first, I just installed the bags and did some minor fender trimming. The rear of the tire hit the fender seam at any turn angle past about 2 o'clock. That ain't gonna work. Next step was to move the axle forward an inch or so.

I worked with Core4X4 to build me some 1" longer control arms. (Those guys are fantastic to work with by the way and turn out a really nice product. I highly recommend...) Supposedly these are new design. They worked with Currie (the Johnny Joint people) to build spherical balls that have the exact hole ID and ball width you need. No spacers on the side are required and the factory metric bolt fits tight in the hole with no slop. Lowers are 2"OD DOM tubing 5/16" wall I think. Hella stout. I got them installed Friday night.
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I went with fixed length lowers, but they can build them however you want. If I were to do it again, I'd go adjustable on both, or at least a bit longer. I adjusted the uppers to be exactly an inch longer before installing and was able to maintain the axle caster angle exactly (so as to not jack up the alignment too bad). Note that the upper arm bolt holes are sized exact so there is no play or movement fore/aft. The lower bolt holes are slotted so I tried to reinstall them in the same location. As others have noted, you'll have to cut the passenger side upper arm rear bolt to get it out unless you want to pull the engine or exhaust downpipe. Not a big deal at all. Cutoff wheel makes quick work. The replacement OEM bolt is PN 6104289AA, M16-1.5 x 160mm, Bolt Flange Head. About $9 bucks.

With this new iteration, the only clearance issue I had was right near full steering lock. It would barely touch the sheet metal seam. So, since my lower arms were fixed, I had to bend these out of the way. I borrowed a trick I saw in some AEV fender instructions: Cut between the spot welds and bend the tabs over. Use some seam sealer to button it back up. Never used the stuff before. About the consistency of toothpaste and hardens in less than an hour if you put it on thin. That's my new favorite adhesive sealant by the way. Yeah, I'm a nerd.
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Continued...
 

Brad_UT

Well-known member
FRONT SUSPENSION (Part 2)
So now that I've got enough tire clearance to drive it comfortably, next thing was to take a look at the airbags and make sure they were happy over the full range of suspension height.

Slowly letting the air out of the bags I found that the bags and shock bottom out at about the same time. Kelderman got that right. Bag height at that point was about 4-7/8". (Firestone says min bag height is 5.4" so I was expecting that to be where they stopped, but no.) The factory bumpstop was still not touching the axle though. I'm going to make a spacer or something for that since I want that to bottom out first. I definitely don't want the shock to take all the load in a full g-out situation like that. The upper shock mount is relatively weak. Pics at full compression (no air in bags):
IMG_4140.JPEGIMG_4141.JPEGIMG_4142.JPEGIMG_4144.JPEGIMG_4149.JPEG

Interesting note: it takes about 70psi in the bags to begin lifting the truck. Fully extending the bags takes about 95psi. Any height taller than about 11.5" seems iffy to me. Firestone says max height is 14.3" but that must be the limit if they are being pulled apart, like with the suspension hanging from them.

At what looks to me like a normal/comfortable ride height, the bag height is about 9.5" (~84psi) Kelderman recommends 7.5-8.5" for good ride quality. Firestone says the bags can operate anywhere between 5.4 - 14.3" but I don't see it. I bought the 2" taller bags and will be giving those a try. This will put me closer to the middle of travel and gain me some bag volume which will improve ride quality.

The bags are pretty plumb except for near full compression. That's where the arms are almost straight out or level with the ground. To address that, I'm going to fab up some 1/2" plate that I will weld onto the lower bag mount. It'll extend the flat mounting surface towards the rear about an inch. This will actually be an easy mod. Lots of thick steel to weld to and plenty of clearance all around.

Track bar clearance looks good and doesn't seem to get too close to the differential cover. I haven't notice any large side to side axle shift, but I think a track bar drop bracket will probably be in order too.

So, for now, I think the front suspension mod list is as follows:
Kelderman Air bag setup
1"+ longer control arms, adjustable upper and lower
Trimming of rear fender well and bending over of seam (minimize this by going longer on your control arms)
2" taller airbag version (Firestone PN W01-358-5434)
Modify lower bag mount to move bag toward rear 0.75-1" or so
Bumpstop spacers
Track bar drop bracket?

9-9.5" Bag Height (~84psi) - This looks like a good ride height to me:
IMG_4113.JPEGIMG_4114.JPEGIMG_4115.JPEGIMG_4116.JPEG


This is still very much a work in progress. More to come.
 

Attachments

Looking awesome my dude. You are doing a very thorough job, thanks for being the guinea pig for me, so much helpful info here. Only 3-4 weeks out on my truck now. Looking forward to seeing your continued progress.
 

RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
Excellent work sir!

Note: In your photo I attached below, I noticed the same thing on mine and found it odd..

There is nothing hold the bolt/arm in place along that elongated hole other than the pressure torqued on the nut.

I see this as a potential issue if that nut ever works even a little lose, the entire alignment can go way out of whack quick.

I was thinking of making a plate with a hole the exact size of the bolt and welding it into place once the truck is dialed in.

That bolt shouldn't ever have to move along that slotted hole since we will have adjustable arms.

Thoughts?

armhole.jpg
 

Brad_UT

Well-known member
Looking awesome my dude. You are doing a very thorough job, thanks for being the guinea pig for me, so much helpful info here. Only 3-4 weeks out on my truck now. Looking forward to seeing your continued progress.
Thanks man! I can't wait to see it. You better start a build thread so all of us can point and make fun. lol :)
 

Brad_UT

Well-known member
There is nothing hold the bolt/arm in place along that elongated hole other than the pressure torqued on the nut.

I see this as a potential issue if that nut ever works even a little lose, the entire alignment can go way out of whack quick.

I was thinking of making a plate with a hole the exact size of the bolt and welding it into place once the truck is dialed in.
Thank you sir! I think you've got an excellent idea here. Adjustable arms make this slotted hole completely unnecessary. I can definitely see them moving around in there. The one thing I'm not 100% stoked about on the Core4x4 arms is how little clamping area you have on either side of the ball. I think they have to do that to be able to assemble the joint. Here's the Core joint vs. the stock joint.
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RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
Thank you sir! I think you've got an excellent idea here. Adjustable arms make this slotted hole completely unnecessary. I can definitely see them moving around in there. The one thing I'm not 100% stoked about on the Core4x4 arms is how little clamping area you have on either side of the ball. I think they have to do that to be able to assemble the joint. Here's the Core joint vs. the stock joint.
View attachment 622351View attachment 622352
Those Johnny Joints all seem to have smaller diameter adapter like in your pic. I have never seen one much bigger. I am not sure the reasoning, but guessing they have one.
 

Brad_UT

Well-known member
Can't believe I forgot to post these! After two months of being confined to the garage I finally got the chance to drive it around a bit. Super happy with the results so far. Drives smooth. No vibrations and pretty quiet inside. Plenty of power and brakes. Shifts firmly and on cue after programming the right tire size. 3126mm seems to be the right circumference. Speedo agrees with GPS to within +/-0.2mph. And best of all, no check engine light.
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Brad_UT

Well-known member
Fog Lights Update:
While driving at night this weekend I discovered something strange. Whenever I would turn right my fog lights would come on. Turning left did nothing. Apparently Dodge has gotten fancy on us. When you turn right or left, it turns on that respective fog light until you straighten back out.

I wired my fog light relay into the right fog light feed. So whenever I turned right, they come on. Geez. Why so damn complicated Dodge? I'm just going to wire them into the upfitter switches and be done with it.
 

RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
Fog Lights Update:
While driving at night this weekend I discovered something strange. Whenever I would turn right my fog lights would come on. Turning left did nothing. Apparently Dodge has gotten fancy on us. When you turn right or left, it turns on that respective fog light until you straighten back out.

I wired my fog light relay into the right fog light feed. So whenever I turned right, they come on. Geez. Why so damn complicated Dodge? I'm just going to wire them into the upfitter switches and be done with it.
I agree this is a silly and dangerous thing Dodge did.

Apparently its quite a chore to remove the feature, as just disconnecting it throws codes. I havent dug into it yet
 

RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
Rear bumper came in. I spent last weekend doing some detail work like drilling more holes, welding brackets, etc. Forgot to take some final pics before sending it off to powder coat yesterday. Considering the height of the flatbed subframe and how the C-channel frame rails stack on top of one another, I think I could have moved the bumper up 5-6" or so. As it is, I will have a gap between the bottom of the bed and the top of the bumper. Not too worried about that, but the more ground clearance under the bumper, the better.
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Friendly tip on bumper design. MAKE SURE you can still get a hand onto the fuel pump after bumper and subframe installed!

Or.... You'll end up having a massive ordeal removing the entire thing to connect the plug to the tank aux output to run a heater, etc...

Ask me how i found this out! :p

I also suggest having the fuel pump somewhat accessible for other reasons as well, but if you ever plan on using that aux port, thats a big one! :)
 
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