HeliNomad RAM PowerWagon Build

HeliNomad

Adventurer
Hello everyone,

It's been a while since I have started a new project vehicle. Ever since I switched from a JK to a G Wagon it's been a little less aggressive of a build list. But after a couple years of a modern G Wagon minimalism I have to say I miss being able to reach my more challenging fishing holes.

ExPo has been home to all of my builds over the years. I detailed all of my vehicles on these forums with lots of help from fellow members. I've even sold all of my builds here as well. Anyway just thanks for all the support and entertainment. Before I write up plans for the Power Wagon I thought I'd recap some of my projects which will serve as some historical relevance.

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Pinzgauer 710

I've always loved these trucks. I found one from a friend of mine that needed some love and tried my hand at restoring it. This was an old radio truck that I converted into a farm truck for running around. It was a lot of fun with 3 locking diffs and a total mule off-road. Not really practical for the highway but I really loved this thing.

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2004 Land Rover Discovery

This was my first real overland style build. I had purchased the first LR3 when it had just came out but was missing the accessory options I wanted. This truck was a lot of fun to build and got me to some really amazing parts of the Sierras and all over South Texas.

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1992 Land Rover Defender NAS 110

After the Discovery I had a serious Land Rover itch that only a Defender could scratch. I bought #99 and did a full frame off restoration...it was glorious and exactly the way I wanted. It was the only truck that I actually was able to sell for what I had in it. Loads of fun to build...not fun to actually trail. The Defender let me down on the trail one too many times to justify. I was spending more time working on the truck than actually enjoying the trip. That was a problem for me. I sold it for a great price to a big time enthusiast who I'm sure is "enjoying" the hell out of it.

JK Jeep Wrangler

After the Land Rover era, I decided no more "alternative" overloading for me. I wanted the off roading standard...a huge after market...and modern dealer support. You can't beat the Jeep. I went with an standard JK that was well equipped and built it out the AEV way. It was great! It had everything I wanted in an overland vehicle, except payload. By the time my wife, son, and I were packed up we were nearly at max payload. Towing my Adventure Trailer made this thing a bit of a dog on the highway. It was loads of fun and got me anywhere and everywhere off-road I wanted to go with excellent reliability...just limited in payload.

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2017 Mercedes G Wagon

I'm not sure what happened but I kind of got tired of driving such a built up rig as a daily driver but I didn't want to give up reaching these special places I just had to keep exploring. Having admired the G Wagon for years and its reliability record and industrial stance, I had heard Mercedes was going to change the design for a more modern interpretation of the G Wagon. I thought this was the right time to buy the last of the "original" pedigree G Wagons. However this time I told my self (and wife) that I would try to keep it a "gentlemen's build" and not go over the top. I think I kept my promise only really de-blinging it and adding some larger tires on smaller rims. It's nice...but I miss the "build".

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2020 RAM HD Power Wagon

So now we arrive to the Power Wagon. This is my first real "truck" build and I have to say it's awesome. It's super well appointed inside in terms of amenities...rivaling even a Range Rover. RAM does an amazing job with interiors. I was able to find a truck with literally ever option offered, even the dual generators. It's a great foundation...like a giant Rubicon. Well maybe not every option...I'm missing the electrical up-fitter package...which is now leaving me trying to figure out how to place switches nicely in this interior.

The ride is also really nice...it's not fatiguing to drive this truck like the JK is on the highway. You can really swallow up some miles in this beast.

We need to talk about the decals...so I get that some like them...but I was less enthusiastic about it...maybe it's the G Wagon snob still lingering within me (wearing fast though, lol). Fortunately taking them off is really easy. Just leave the truck in the sun for a while and they peal right off. For now I left the hood decal and the rear badging.

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My Plan:

So my immediate plan for this build so-far is the following:
- 35" Toyo MTs on AEV Salta Rims
- Nuthouse Industries Custom Rack to address the mounting points for hi-lift, shovel, rotopax, Power Tank, mattrax, full-size spare (more on the spare below).
- White Knuckle Off-road Sliders in the HD DOM spec.

Less immediate plans requiring more research and recommendations (feel free to chime in please!):
-AEV Snorkel:
I have questions about the effectiveness of the AEV Snorkel and it's need on this platform. How does the trucks stock air cleaner handle riding trail behind other rigs in the dust.
-SPod or other switch solution:
I'm curious what people do here that doesn't look "aftermarket"...I really wish I had the up-fitter package but apparently it's impossible/impractical to retrofit after the fact. I had SPod in the JK and it worked great.
-Odyssey Battery:
I really like Odyssey batteries as they have done really well for me in the past. I don't want a dual battery as I use Lithium Packs now for camping gear, lighting, etc. So I really just need to know what is the best AGM style high quality battery that replaces that is a drop in replacement for the factory unit. Is there an Odyssey battery that drops in place for this truck?
-Front and Rear Bumper:
Right now I'm pretty happy with the factory option here...seems plenty strong for the kind of uses I give the truck. However I would like some better recovery point front and rear. I'm paying close attention to AEVs option and will review once some more people try them on the 5th Gen platform.
-HAM Radio Install:
I've always had a Kenwood HAM in my vehicles (except for the G Wagon), so looking to learn more about install locations that look nice, where to mount remote head units, and exterior 2m antennas. Also considering the reliance more on satellite comms I'm also willing to switch to a handheld radio and forgo the whole installed HAM which I have to admit I never used to talk to anyone further than 20 car lengths.
-Off road lighting:
I think I want to install a Rigid single height off road LED bar on the front stock bumper...I've seen other RAMs with this set up. Any issues with airflow of that duct right above the fairlead? I would need to solve my switch solution first. I have utility lights being installed on the rack from Nuthouse that will be locally switched so I think I am covered there. I don't need to overkill the off road lighting beyond a light bar I think. The trucks stock LED lighting is already very impressive.
-More to come...


So far:

I got the AEV Salta rims in today and mounted the Toyo MTs. Love these tires...they are super smooth even at 70-80 mph with reasonable noise. They also feel more solid than the GoodYears that were on there before. One surprise is that the 35" will not fit in as a spare but not even close! This is despite what I had read online. I wonder if that is because of a change in the 2020 heat shield or if the reports I read had to do with the BFG KM3 that are a little smaller than the Toyo's which are a true 35". I even tried by removing all of the air of the tire and it's still a far way from fitting...bummer. So for now it will live in the bed of the truck strapped to the factory cargo system. Soon my Nuthouse Rack will be here and we'll come up with a better solution.

Question: Is there anything worth doing with that space of the spare tire? I am cognizant that while I have way more payload than ever, the PowerWagon is still limited.

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I'm really looking forward to this. Cheers!
 
Last edited:

Explorerinil

Observer
I have the same truck minus the ram boxes, you’ll love it. As far as the snorkel goes, you won’t need it, ram changed the air box in the 19 trucks, it’s up high and doesn’t suck in dust like the old one the draws air from the wheel well.

get an spod for your lights. Did you bend the heat sheield? That 35 should fit aired down, make sure a trailer wiring harness is out of the way.

your on the right track!
 

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On the upfitter switches, most major manufacturers use the same wiring harness for all builds, I bet you could order the mopar upfitter switch pack, pull the plate where that option goes, and find the connector already there somewhere on the harness. I know the f-250/ 350 is similar ( though it does require an accessory cable to run down the a-pillar to get to the wiring harness.

The soft open tailgate on my f-150 was a 25 dollar part and a 15 minute install when I had that.

Lastly, those are some lovely builds, and Im pretty sure Im advising you on something you already know (or have researched) ;)
 

HeliNomad

Adventurer
I have the same truck minus the ram boxes, you’ll love it. As far as the snorkel goes, you won’t need it, ram changed the air box in the 19 trucks, it’s up high and doesn’t suck in dust like the old one the draws air from the wheel well.

get an spod for your lights. Did you bend the heat sheield? That 35 should fit aired down, make sure a trailer wiring harness is out of the way.

your on the right track!
Hmm...well I didn't bend the heat shield but honestly it seems that even if the heat shield weren't there it would still would impact the rear link and the back of the hitch. Check out these photos...is there something different about the 2020? Here's a photo:

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gillbrak

Active member
Looks the same as my 19. I had to drop to about 10 psi on a 315/70/17 Duratrac which is only about 34” to begin with. A true 35 may not fit.


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McCarthy

Is it riding season yet?
Looks the same as my 19. I had to drop to about 10 psi on a 315/70/17 Duratrac which is only about 34” to begin with. A true 35 may not fit.


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315/70/17 Duratrac is 34.4" tall by 12.7" wide.

a 35x12.50x17 Duratrac is 34.8" tall by 12.5" wide

It'll fit fine.
 

Pnwfullsize

Active member
Make sure when trying to get the spare under there you angle the leading side up to get past the track bar, then use some muscle to jam the rest in there. I did relocate my wiring that was pinned to the back of the hitch.
 

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Hmm...well I didn't bend the heat shield but honestly it seems that even if the heat shield weren't there it would still would impact the rear link and the back of the hitch. Check out these photos...is there something different about the 2020? Here's a photo:

View attachment 604803
My 14 ram 2500 looks the same. Honestly the rear panhard was rubbing on the stock size spare. I've attempted to make a rear panhard to clear a 35" spare, but it just winds up looking like a noodle.

Kevin
 
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