(Another) 2021 Ram 5500 Build Thread

Hey everyone. Been here lurking for a bit, doing some learning before embarking on my own build. Originally planned on doing my build on an F550 but after seeing @RAM5500 CAMPERTHING 's videos decided to check out some Rams and ended up going that route instead. @Brad_UT 's thread has been really helpful too so big thanks to both of them for answering my questions and sharing their build. I ordered my truck about 12 weeks ago, just took delivery yesterday. This will be a slow build, and I'll post progress as I go along. This is just one project of several I have going at the moment but I'm shooting for getting this done in a year. My main goal during this build is to fabricate as many components in-house as possible.

I'm a software engineer by day and have a small fabrication business as a side hustle. My wife and I were full-time travelers for almost 2 years before we settled in Southern Utah. We did over 60k miles in one year in my 2016 Sierra 2500 Denali towing a 20ft enclosed trailer that we built a small living quarters in the front of. The back 11 feet were for a UTV :) So we are no stranger to the road and living in tight quarters. This build will have a big emphasis on solar power and energy storage. I plan to work full-time from this build for a while after it is done so having stable power and a comfortable place to work is my first priority.

Anyhow, my build will be along the same vein as an Earthroamer but a few less creature comforts and maybe a few pounds lighter. It will be similar proportions, early designs of my box put it about 24" shorter overall length than an ER LTS crew cab. The truck itself is a few inches shorter and the box will be a bit shorter since I am not extending my frame like Earthroamer does for the LTS. I live in Southern Utah and do a lot of off-roading, most of it being desert terrain. I don't need this to be a small, nimble trail truck but it will be plenty capable for the terrain I spend the most time on.

My base truck is a 2021 Ram 5500 4x4 Laramie 84" CA I special ordered with the features I liked most. Here's some pics of the truck:

image0.jpegimage1.jpegimage2.jpegimage3.jpeg


Looking forward to the build and learning more from the pros around here! Merry Christmas/Happy holidays everyone.
 
Last edited:
Since I already have a couple of parts on deck, I'll post the first update. I ordered my wheels the day after I ordered my truck, back in September. They showed up the day before my truck.

They are Hutchinson Industries DOT-approved double beadlocks in 20x11. They are insanely overbuilt and weigh a metric **** ton. I have 5 of these getting wrapped in the usual 335/80r20 (41") Continental MPT81s, tires should be here in about a week.

I love these wheels for a few reasons, mostly because I can mount tires anywhere without the need of a tire shop. Finding a tire shop to mount this size of tire/wheel is not a fun endeavor especially in small towns. These also let me air down more for sand and rocks which is what I spend the most time on. Thirdly, I think they look cool as hell.

image5.jpegimage6.jpegimage7.jpeg
 
I debated on fender flares for a while but I've always liked the look of the AEV Highmark flares the most. They've been out of stock for ages but I pestered them on the phone a few times and somehow they were able to get me a set about a month ahead of schedule. Top notch service there. The flares are super high build quality, very impressed with that. I yanked one out of the box and just couldn't believe the size of these things. With the trimming required for these flares I will have the most clearance physically possible to stuff these 41s under the truck with minimal lift. Here's one sitting on my temporary work desk:

IMG_4048[4897].jpg
 

da/dt

Member
Looking forward to seeing the build. I’m in St. George if you ever need a hand. I don’t really bring any special skills to the table, but I can lift panels with the best of them!
 

MTVR

Well-known member
Very cool. Sounds like you're off to a good start.

We built ours on a much larger vehicle, but our box uses a concept similar to yours, where the back part is a garage, and the front part is our living quarters.
 
What specifically made you choose the heavy dodge platform over the F550?
Honestly never been a fan of Ram and didn't even consider it at first. After I found camperthing's videos on youtube I went to the Ram dealer and drove one, checked out the interior. Was impressed by the interior and the build quality. I have read more repairs can be done on the Cummins without yanking the cab, hopefully I don't need to test that theory. I guess it made the decision easy when Ford dealer wanted MSRP + $500 and was 12-16 weeks out, I got my Ram for $1000 under INVOICE. So it cost me like $8k less than the F550 and I got more features, and a shorter build time. I'm happy with that decision for now. If it turns out I am not happy in the long term next build I'll go back to the F550.
 
Very cool. Sounds like you're off to a good start.

We built ours on a much larger vehicle, but our box uses a concept similar to yours, where the back part is a garage, and the front part is our living quarters.
Thanks man, luckily a couple other builds going on got me spun up on the basics of building on the Ram platform which was super helpful. I won't be able to have a garage on my expo truck build sadly, I just plan on towing my small aluminum trailer along when I want to bring toys. That setup worked great in our enclosed trailer tho.
 

RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
I love these wheels for a few reasons, mostly because I can mount tires anywhere without the need of a tire shop.
Welcome to the cult... err... I mean club!

Gorgeous rig sir! Gonna need a detailed list of the added special order OEM goodies man! Cmon… you know the rules! :p

Sidenote about those wheels. That is a completely false statement, about not needing a shop to install, etc...

I had a set and did some trial and error mounting and dismounting wheels to make sure it could be done in the field before I went all in mounting them...

Yeah... I am a big burly 6'4" 285lb ape, and there is not a chance in hell that can be done as easily as one would think.

I spent almost an entire week trying this, without special tools, too bulky to carry with ya traveling, it would be close to impossible, especially the "beadlock" that goes inside the tire.

I ended up giving the set to a friend of mine that he's using on some crazy rock crawler project.

Also, there is no way to mount the TPMS sensors in them, and I have yet to find anyone on the intrawebs that can bypass that royal pain in the ********.

Looking forward to watching your progress sir! #SENDIT
 
Welcome to the cult... err... I mean club!

Gorgeous rig sir! Gonna need a detailed list of the added special order OEM goodies man! Cmon… you know the rules! :p

Sidenote about those wheels. That is a completely false statement, about not needing a shop to install, etc...

I had a set and did some trial and error mounting and dismounting wheels to make sure it could be done in the field before I went all in mounting them...

Yeah... I am a big burly 6'4" 285lb ape, and there is not a chance in hell that can be done as easily as one would think.

I spent almost an entire week trying this, without special tools, too bulky to carry with ya traveling, it would be close to impossible, especially the "beadlock" that goes inside the tire.

I ended up giving the set to a friend of mine that he's using on some crazy rock crawler project.

Also, there is no way to mount the TPMS sensors in them, and I have yet to find anyone on the intrawebs that can bypass that royal pain in the ********.

Looking forward to watching your progress sir! #SENDIT
Thanks man!

I'll just post my order sheet, it's easier lol. The features I wanted most were cooled seats, 12" nav screen, but vinyl floors. Obviously not a combo they keep on the lot. Actually ended up being much cheaper to order in the long run.

image0.jpg

Have to disagree on the wheels tho, I spent a lot of years in the Army hand mounting these for LMTVs and MRAPs. Maybe you had a different style, but these are smooth all the way across and you just drop the tires on, torque, and air them up. Really shouldn't need anything other than an impact and torque wrench. The beadlock inserts are one solid piece, some of the older style LMTV ones used to bolt together. TPMS sensors another issue tho, we'll see if anything can be done about that lol.
 

RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
That’s a dang nice build sheet sir! Congrats!

4.89 gearing I assume?

Interesting about your take on the wheels, I’ll be following the “after report” 😊
 
That’s a dang nice build sheet sir! Congrats!

4.89 gearing I assume?

Interesting about your take on the wheels, I’ll be following the “after report” 😊
Yeah 4.89. Wished they offered an extended cab version man, I would have gone for that. I need to be able to carry a passenger or 2 on occasion but crew cab is a little bigger than ideal for me. I think it will turn out ok though, I don't plan on doing any super tight trails in this thing. When the tires get here I'll post an update.

There is a diesel tuner here working on the Gen5 4500/5500 right now, they said they might be able to edit the number of tires for TPMS, fuel tank DTE calcs and some other things. I am going to pester them on occasion and see if they make any progress. I plan on swapping the 22gal tank for a 50gal and would like the DTE calc to be corrected. It'll be a collective effort and I'm sure we can all share info as we go along. Tho looks like you are about done already haha.
 

RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
Yeah 4.89. Wished they offered an extended cab version man, I would have gone for that. I need to be able to carry a passenger or 2 on occasion but crew cab is a little bigger than ideal for me. I think it will turn out ok though, I don't plan on doing any super tight trails in this thing. When the tires get here I'll post an update.

There is a diesel tuner here working on the Gen5 4500/5500 right now, they said they might be able to edit the number of tires for TPMS, fuel tank DTE calcs and some other things. I am going to pester them on occasion and see if they make any progress. I plan on swapping the 22gal tank for a 50gal and would like the DTE calc to be corrected. It'll be a collective effort and I'm sure we can all share info as we go along. Tho looks like you are about done already haha.
Oooh... keep me posted

I was about to order the 50 gallon from Transfer flow and they told me the DTE would be whacky so I didn’t

If it’s Calibrateable (new word) I’d definitely do it.

Im far from done... it’a never done 😊
 
Top