"Dodge" 2010 Ram 3500 Build

FEF

Member
Greetings, all.

There was a time when my wife and I went rock-crawling and camping quite a lot. Our last kid has left the house so we thought we'd "go out and see stuff". We don't know if we are going to have a slide-in camper, trailer, or maybe even both, but I knew I needed a 1-ton truck and felt it necessary to have a diesel engine. I have no brand loyalty, so I waited quite a while (many months) for a 'Big-3' truck to pop-up that met specs I was looking for. We don't plan to do any serious wheeling, and have much more time then money, so I don't plan to build a "serious" overland/expedition rig.

This build may be boring to many. But since I got many of the ideas from reading these forums, I thought I'd show what I'm doing in an attempt to 'give back' something.

Meet "Dodge", a 2010 Ram 3500 (Laramie)



First thing I did was put in power steps and love how they tuck under the truck. I plan to get some rock sliders at some point.


I also pulled 1" harness conduit down the left side of the engine bay, and also put in harness conduit from the left side to the right side along the OEM harness. For the most part, I put it 1" conduit everywhere the power step wires had to go.

I don't care much for chrome so I picked up a cheap black grill


I have cameras on the front and rear license plate frames so I put in conduit along the front and rear bumper for lights and stuff I'll put in later. I also pulled a few more camera wires just in case. I pulled right, center, and left, camera cables both front and rear, and put cameras in my side mirrors. I wrapped them in tape or put them in conduit.




Pulled all them up the left firewall


Then put in a cable grommet where the clutch shaft would go


I put in a rear view monitor mirror and pulled that harness down the left pillar and pulled all the camera cables into the area under the stereo. While I was pulling wire, I pulled a 10ga wire to power the 4ch monitor mirror, the 4ch monitor, and cameras. I also put in a relay that energizes the stuff when the key is in the 'run' position.


There's a video switch for the stereo that allows me to switch between the front and rear camera when in reverse, and the front camera and the stereo when in other gears. Here's where I put the switches



It's still a bit of a mess, but here's the under-stereo area after some cable management. Keep in mind that there's 10 camera cables, aftermarket stereo stuff, and power for the mirror with camera trigger wires.


Currently working on battery and engine bay electrical and should have pics of that soon
 

FEF

Member
Here's another pic

This is the passenger door after I got the camera line taped to the mirror harness and the trigger from the mirror turn signal was tied into with connectors and such
 

FEF

Member
I didn't want to spend the money on this mod but since the batteries went flat twice while I was working on the cameras and monitors, and they shouldn't have, I had to get batteries. Since I'm not one to rework if I don't have to, I went on with isolating the two main electrical systems.

I've split the starting circuit from the rest of the truck electrical system on the last 3 offroad rigs I've had and this will be no exception. When complete, the two existing battery trays will have deep cycle batteries (probably dual purpose), and the starter battery will be mounted on the frame as close to the starter as I can. It does mean sharing the same alternator and always means that I need to find a place for the battery isolator. Currently, I have a H8 AGM battery in the left and a cheap marine battery on the right side. I'll get a real battery for the right side when I get the pair that will sit in the existing battery trays.

The reason I use the Victron is that it's my understanding that the batteries are truly isolated from each other. Since they don't use diodes there's no .6-.7v drop, meaning they get a 'full' charge.

It's tough to find a good mounting spot. This time I chose the right battery box area since the alternator charging wire and the grid heaters are on that battery. Here's the mount that didn't work. I measured a few times and thought there'd be enough clearance... I was wrong, it will hit the intake tube from the air cleaner, so don't make one like this. :)




I guess one of my catch phrases should be, 'I make mistakes so you don't have too.'
 

FEF

Member
Here's the isolator mount that did work with the cheap marine battery in it. I'll have to use a strap to keep it in. Not sure, but I think it's a 24M at about 1000 MCA. Given that I'm not likely to see anything below freezing for another 5-6 months, it should be a fair test. When I'm done, I can use it to power some 12v test things in the garage.





I had planned to put in a catch can for the CCV vapors but then I looked at the turbo. You can see where I rubbed my fingers on the oil. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that looks pretty darn good to me.


I forgot to count the two camera/video quick disconnects I put in the bed over the 5th wheel/gooseneck socket. That makes 12 camera cables running to the center console, under the stereo. Thinking about it, it does sound like madness for a guy that's not doing any video production. I'm concerned that I won't have a spotter because we're going solo, but maybe I did to a bit too far. Only time will tell


Next up, cable and wire madness.
 

FEF

Member
Busy day yesterday. Even if you're not slow, this kind of work takes time. I only had to rework one section, and even with that I've got 6-7 hours into this bit. It takes a while to make custom cables, put on split loom, then clean everything up. Personally, I love this kind of work. Less talk. More pictures!!!

The first thing I did was to open up the wire tray that runs from the left side to the right.


I noticed that I could easily get the wires for the Power Step in there.


Because I'm splitting the systems, there needs to be a cable from the isolator to the left battery, and a cable from the fuse box (on the left side) to the right battery. At first, I thought I'd just put them in split loom and zip-tie them to the black cable tray.


However, after thinking a bit, I thought I'd test fit the H8 battery in the frame mount battery box and see where it would go. It didn't take long to figure out that the battery wouldn't fit in any of the boxes I have, and truth is that I really don't need 3 batteries. When/If I really need a 3rd battery, I can deal with that later. I plan to carry HD jumper cables so if I need more power to run a winch, or something happens, I can connect the batteries together.

Once that decision was made, it didn't take long to find out that the 2 cables (4 awg) would fit in the tray where the huge battery cable was. I used electrical tape for a bit more abrasion resistance, and it's also true that the tape will tell me if any of the cables are being cut into.



More split loom and tape gave me this on the left side of the cable tray


And this around the left battery box.


I finished up the cables the cables on the right side (more pics later), and called it a day. I don't want to be tired when I hook it all up and test it.
 

FEF

Member
Put in a few more hours yesterday. I started by grabbing the meter and checking continuity from the alt to the isolator input, the isolator to the right battery, and then from the isolator to the left battery. Then I checked continuity of the other cables I made. It's always good when every wire and cable goes where they are supposed to go. :)

Here's a pic of some of the cable management things I use


The H8 size battery will only fit in the left side. In my case it's fine because I've isolated the batteries. It's a VERY tight fit, and I needed to shave off some of the webbing on the bottom.



Here's the right side battery area. I like how it came out. If something goes wrong, not that I expect any problems, I can easily trace the cables, and they are all in split loom with zip-ties separating them.


The right side is a mess, but it's as clean and safe as I can get it. Keep in mind that this battery is just for testing and the posts are reversed and I had to use a strap to hold it in. Some of the cables are too long and I had to make cheezy extension for the ground cable from the engine block. I know... It's a bit on the untidy side.


I like how the isolator area came out. I am concerned about the coolant area though. One should always have a funnel, but it's not always possible. Sure, it's all waterproof, but I can see how coolant will get everywhere when poured from a jug. On a side note, there are benefits to living close to a larger city with an Amazon hub. The terminal covers, 8 awg and 6 awg ring terminals, rolls of black tape, split loom harness covering, and more, were all ordered (on different days) before 8:00pm then delivered the next morning before 9:30am. It's a beautiful thing, man. To be sure.


I got the cables all cleaned up and hooked up the batteries for a smoke test. All the smoke stayed in the wires, so that's a start. I used a no-contact thermometer gun to see if any of the terminals and wires were getting hot. Everything's cool. I found something kinda odd though. With the ground removed from the left battery I get nominal voltage from the OEM fuse box to ground. With the right ground removed I get 1.5v-2V. I expected to see no voltage from the left battery to the to the OEM fuse box, but I am using an isolator with black magic chips. I'll have to think about that a bit. Right now, I'm thinking that it's effectively isolated until the other battery get to about 2V. I'll have to do some research. It might be fine or I may need to add a battery drain protector. Next, a current test from the truck battery to ground. With everything as it should be and the the key off, I get about .25A-.35A. Honestly, I don't remember what's acceptable. More research, again.

Other then those oddities, It was all good. I fired up the engine to see if the batteries were getting charged.


They weren't. The Insight CTS3 was showing about 12.4v. The batteries were about 12.3 -12.4v. From the input to the isolator to ground, I got about 2v. The alt was not charging. I instantly remembered that I forgot the 'Energize' 12v send needed at the bottom of the isolator. It allows voltage to be present so the alt can tell something needs to be charged. ACK!!!!

I felt like an idiot while cut all the zip-ties and pulled the wires out of the cable tray. I found a larger gauge wire that has voltage in the run position. Here's where I spliced into the hot wire.


It was a quick job to cut, strip, solder, and shrink wrap the connection. It took a lot longer to put the new wire in with the rest of the harness, wrap it up, run it to the right side, then add black tape for abrasion resistance and 1/4" split loom. That's where I stopped for the night. Later today, I'll finish the cable management and put on a female blade connector. Then I'll see if the system is charging.
 

FEF

Member
I finished up the electrical system split yesterday. Counting the isolator, ring terminal connectors, shrink tubing and such, it cost about $150 to split the systems. I had to rework a few areas, once because I forgot something (ACK), and another because I'm not familiar (as I am now) with the vehicle. Not counting those two points, I'd say I have between 15 to 17 hours into the system split. However, that does include head scratching while trying to figure out what to do now and forecasting future needs, shoehorning the H8 battery into the left side, whipping up a temp wiring solution for the battery on the right side, LOTS of wrapping with black tape, lots of fiddling with split loom stuff, and A LOT of cable management.

Picture time!!

In previous posts I've shown pics of the cable tray. I tapped into the red wire going into the connection block (in the pic above), ran my wire back into the cable tray, taped all the wires together in the harness (again), closed up the black cable tray and zip-tied the grey 1" split loom to the tray, again. I admit that I have no idea what or where that red wire goes, but I have an educated guess that the 'Energize' input is mostly a trigger voltage and won't need much, if any, power. I know that when I unplugged the block, I got trailer brake errors, so that's a thing to remember if I start seeing oddities.

I love shrink tubing. If you do it right, it can hold curves. For those with OCD ( maybe me), it's a beautiful thing.


After more wire management the isolator is sporting a new wire and the area is all cleaned up.


I did another walkabout, checked all the wires again, took a breath, and fired it up. It felt real good to see some charging going on.


Right and left batteries. There's a minute or two between pics so that accounts for the different voltages between the two.



I'm pleased. It's really clean for what's going on. To me, it looks virtually OEM.
NOTE: If we argue to the extreme, we could say that the cable tray has minimal void in there. I did take a huge cable out, put 2 smaller ones in it's place, then added 5-6 more 18-20 gauge wires for the Power Step and Energize wire. Unlike most electrical conduit, the wall of this cable tray is thin. I purposely put the higher current wires closer to the tray walls. It's also true that, not counting the Power Step wires, I used thicker gauge wires then conservative math suggested. I have reason to believe it will be fine, and if I did it right I'll never have to get into the black cable tray again. All future wires will go into the grey tubing or another harness zip-tied to the cable tray.


With luck, I'll go out there this morning and find that the batteries aren't flat. :)
 

FEF

Member
Update:

I let it set for 2 days and found no drop in battery voltages.

I started the fun task of cleaning the EGR valve and cooler. Very unfun, but I did learn that the people before me have taken good care of the engine. That's great news since I plan to take this rig to some remote places.

I pulled the negative terminals from the batteries to do the EGR work. As a test, I put the starting battery terminal on and tried the power door locks and nothing happened. The good news is that they did work when I put the negative terminal to the 'truck' battery. Good test.

Things to do:
- Put the interior windshield pillars back together.
- Install the left side mirror camera (and take pictures)
- Mount the other camera monitor
- Find a spot for a gauge to monitor the dual battery voltages and maybe another for EGT
- Modify the tailgate camera so it tilts up a bit. That mount position is for parking, not for use as a rear view.

Other things:
- Convert to floor shifter.
- Find out why the seat heaters don't work.
- Research on security dome cameras. Maybe I can get 1-2 under the truck but it's clearly not a priority
 

Inline6

Adventurer
nice stuff, I am thinking of the isolator for my dodge. Now that I know about them because of you. Mine sits more than is driven and isolation them has been on my list since I bought the truck new. Its time for new batteries again, so this may be on the list as well.

thanks
 

FEF

Member
I've done some more tinkering.

The rear camera in the tailgate handle points to low to be used as a rear view but not low enough to see the trailer hitch. I tried to make it so a lens would point up but at the end of the day I decided to get a handle without a camera and cut a hole in the middle of the tailgate. I got the hole saw lined up and the second I got through the metal, the bit grabbed the uneven surface on the inside and snapped off. It was then that I scratched up the tailgate just under the handle, like a dork. I knew better. Really. Some touch-up paint will make it barely noticeable but it's still more then a little embarrassing.


After that mishap I used a center punch to make a bump on the metal behind the hole. I opened the gate and used the center punch to push the bump in and drill a small pilot hole for the larger hole saw that would give me more room to work. You can see the black paint I used to cover the exposed metal. I really need to get a nail polish size bottle of color match paint.


The driver side mirror camera was easier to do since I finished the passenger side. Drilled the hole in the mirror, did some cutting and splicing to the video cable, put a 4 pin connector in the mirror arm so I can replace the cam when/if it fails, found the turn signal wire to use as the rear view monitor trigger, then put in another 4 pin connector in case the door needs to come off. I did run into something I didn't expect. The connector at the body in the big boot was full. Fortunately, I found a place where I could use a rotary tool and make a hole big enough for the cable. I was tempted to get pins for the stock connector but decided to go the easy route.




Some tape, split loom, and clips cleaned up the wiring.



I cleaned up the center console area with more wire management stuff. These wires won't move much if the truck starts bounding around. I am concerned that some of them may be in the way when I put in the console/floor shifter, though.


Looking at the control buttons for the license plate camera switcher, and the switcher for the rear view monitor... I don't like the feel or look. I don't like the look, mostly, if I'm honest. It's not a priority, but I will likely replace those with some kind of OEM looking panel mount momentary switch.


I was having some trouble opening the door, and I really don't like the chrome handle, so I put in a black handle while I had the door panel off. And..... The badges on the fender are way too much bling for my taste so I pulled them off. Here's the end result with the new side mirror camera. I love the clean look.


I put more pieces back together and didn't like the way the HDMI cable for the Edge Insight came out the left pillar so I made a notch for the wire. I really want a grommet in there but couldn't find one that would stretch around the HDMI connector. Still, it doesn't look too bad.



Other thoughts:
I really do need a switch to disable the Power Step. I've got no idea where to put it.
I'd like to find a way to label the switches. Having switches made is an option but they're usually too big.
I found that my fog lights, and the left front (orange) driving light, are not working. The daytime running lights, too. I'll have to look into that.
 

FEF

Member
I admit that some of this is going to be cosmetic and less exciting. But still, it might be information that could help someone.

The new tailgate handle, without the camera, came in yesterday. I put it in with no surprises, but it also gave me an opportunity to get a pic of the back side of the camera install.


It's just me, I know, but I don't care much for all the chrome and bling in the badge/emblems so they had to come off.


That's when I found that there are a few holes in the center Ram emblem. Oops. I've found a few mostly black Ram emblems that I like so I'll get one of those to cover the holes.


I've come to the conclusion that the truck system battery will always be a marine battery and not an auto dual purpose battery. To that end, I picked up a 27M battery and started making cable lengths permanent. It will take more wire management and a longer engine ground cable because the posts are reversed. Thing is, it's too tall and hits the hood lift ball joint. That means I'll have to shim the body side of the battery box and make the strap situation better. I also found that there's room on the frame, on that side, for a Ford van, frame mount, battery box. If I need another battery for winching, or whatever, I can put another 27M down there.

I cut off the strap, heated up the end with a heat gun and then flattened the end with lineman pliers. I also made a plastic piece to go between the battery and the strap ratchet.



Today, I finish up the the truck battery side and get pictures.
 

FEF

Member
The right battery box wiring got finished up yesterday, at least good enough for now.

With all the split loom and tape I'm sure it would be fine, but just in case, I split some tubing and put it on the edge of the metal frame. Personally, I'd rather error to the side of caution in these situations.


I spent way too long trying to find paths for wires that would clear. This wire run from over there, that cable going under this and over that... I'm sure many of the wire/cable routes would have worked but this is where I landed. Also, I'm not pleased with the battery strap. The ratchet is fine, and it works, but I'm going to look for a different kind of tightening thing. There's a piece of wood keeping the battery from the strut ball joint. I must have a plastic block around here somewhere to replace it. This is where I ended up.




I've still have the Power Step power wires to clean up. I need to extend the positive to reach the fuse box, and I think that I'm going to run the negative through the firewall to a switch, then to ground. The hard part is finding a switch and location I like. I'd like it to match what I use for the camera monitors. That's going to be tough.

Also, I put some more time in the truck and I found that I really don't like the side mirrors. When they are horizontal, the convex mirror is in the wrong place. It's fine when it's flipped, but it should be on the inside when horizontal. To that end, I've ordered GM style mirrors that are extendable. This means I need to redo the cameras. Yup, more rework.
 

FEF

Member
This is bound to ruffle a few feathers...

The GM style mirrors came in. And again, while this does serve a purpose while towing, it's going to look like a purely cosmetic change. I started with the right mirror because I can turn my head and see the blind spot. I can shake the bugs out of the drivers side before I go to the left side, which is more important to me.

Here's what they look like installed. Personally, I'm not sure I like the looks of them from a form-over-function perspective. However, I knew I made the right choice the second I got into the driver seat.



The first thing I did when I pulled them out of the box was try to find a place for a camera. After pulling all the removable panels off and thinking about it for a while, I found that the lower outside corner would be best.


The video cable was resized and pulled through


I found that two of the bolts were longer then the other, and longer then the OEM mirror so I took the time to cut them off.


The mirrors came with an 'extra' harness for the backup lights and the running light. I could have wired the running light to the turn signal but decided not too. Truth is, someday if I get bored I'll look into having a few of the LEDs running lights and the others turn signal. I'll have to put in a relay for the backup lights so I can run them off the reverse trigger I'm using for the plate back-up camera. Of course, they were not bound in any way so I chucked them up and twisted them with a drill.


I spliced the turn signal trigger for the rear view monitor into the turn signal wire and ran the wires through the boot and through the white plastic piece that holds the connectors. The hole for the video cable was made bigger to include the harness. As it turns out, I'm not practically perfect in every way and spliced the wrong wire for the turn trigger. I was able to test the camera placement after I fixed that hick-up.


The camera points down too far so I had to pull the panel off the mirror and think of some fix. After some head scratching I decided to heat it with a heat gun and reform it. This isn't the way it ended up but it gives an idea of the process.



I got the switches for the Power Step and the monitors. I'll be working to those next. Up till now, all the things I've done are reversible. Drilling holes into a perfectly good dash has always been unsettling to me. It's got to be done, though.
 

mekcanix

Camper
I have been really thinking about doing this since I found out company's were making the GM style mirror to fit the RAMs. I personally do not like the factory RAM towing mirrors, and I loved my GM ones on my old sierra. Which company did you go with for the mirrors?
 

FEF

Member
They popped up for about $160 on Amazon Warehouse. I was stunned. I couldn't click the mouse fast enough. The box was a bit beat up but that's all I could find wrong with them. Even if they had a scuff here and there they would have been worth it too me.

Now, I did notice some fit and finish things, if you're really picky. The mounting triangle, the black piece that touches the door, is not exactly the OEM size. The top angle should be a bit taller, and the lower right is not quite right either, at least for the 2010. I'm not sure you'd notice if you didn't look look closely. To me, they are worth every penny of $260, but I'm on a VERY tight budget so I waited for them to pop up 'used'.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09DCJNPR6?ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details&th=1
 
Top