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Feature Truck: Steve Belt's 1995 2500HD
Steve removed this page from the web when he changed ISP's.
I contacted him about the possibility of bringing it back to life on my web site and he graciously
agreed to allow the page to be re-posted here. Since then, Steve revived his page here:
Here are some of the points of interest on this fine truck:
2" Rancho Performance Lift System
The kit was installed by Steve and his brother-in-law Chris. The instructions were found to be very accurate. The pictures (all black and white) show enough detail to understand what is trying to be accomplished with each step. The kit came complete with all necessary parts and hardware.
Tools you should have include:
Start time was around 7:30 am. First, the wheels, shocks, springs, and the lower control arms are removed. Installing the new, longer lower control comes next, followed by the new upper control arms. The installation of the new control arms isn't hard, once a method is learned for shimming the new washers into place. Tip: Use a buddy and a screwdriver to create some extra space to get the washer into place.
The new bump stops come next, and it is this step that shows the weakest point in the instructions. The instructions say to use a pair vice grips to remove the old rubber from the bump stop. Tip: Clamping a pipe clamp onto the old rubber and then hammering it out is much more effective. Next the instructions say to drill new holes in the old bump stop support. Tip: Hammering a centerpunch through the stops works better. This allows the new bumps stops to be mounted.
Mounting the spring spacer comes next. Before installing the spring spacer, each bolt hole should be checked to make sure the bolt will screw into it. The spring spacer is painted Rancho red, and these holes may need attention. With the installation of the spring spacer is the upper dual shock mount. A bottle jack is used to separate the lower spring mount far enough away from the upper spring spacer to insert the spring itself. Tip: When using the bottle jack on the passenger side, be sure to make sure that the 4x4 connections to the front axle are not over extended. In this case, the electronic connectors had to be disconnected to avoid breakage.
The lower dual shock bracket is then installed, which required a drill out of an existing hole. The brake calipers need to be removed to get the clearance for the drill.
All of the shocks are then mounted and the lower control arm skid plates installed. Finally, the truck is raised up and joinced a few times to settle the supsension and the work is finished off by torquing everything to spec and installing the tires.
An hour and a half was spent dialing in the RS9000s and in general testing out the new "toy". Final completion time was 6:30pm.
The 35x12.50R16.5 BF Goodwrench Mud TAs were installed the following day on 16.5x9.75 American Eagle Type 559. Subsequently, the truck was put on the alignment rack. This didn't quite complete the job, as there was considerable fender rubbing at the front driver's side fender, under even minor spring compression. A trip to a local body shop trimmed up about 1" to provide the necessary clearance. The passenger side has remained unchanged.
Finally, 3 months later, the front anti-sway bar was removed. Tire rubbing did not worsen on the fender wall, but overall axle-articulation has improved. I haven't noticed any ill-effects from this in terms of extra body sway, which I attribute to the double Rancho shocking provided by the kit, which is a bit stiffer than the stock setup.
Xenon Fender Flares
The fender flares are manufactured by Xenon. These flares are made out of a polyurethane material. They differ greatly from those produced by Bushwacker, in that the Bushwacker flares are made of ABS plastic. The composition of these flares allows them to collide with an object (like a tree or rock) without cracking or breaking. The flares cover the top half of the tires fairly well, but due to the rolled under design of the Ram, coverage for the rocker panels is pretty minimal. These flares would not be a replacement for mud flaps, and really should be considered only for people interested in the look of the setup (as I do) or as required by law in your area. If you are looking to prevent mud and debris from spraying onto the rocker panels, these are not the flares for you.
Installation is fairly straightforward and instructions and all necessary hardware are provided.
Necessary tools include:
The flares are kept on the truck via two mechanisms: screws fasten the flares inside the wheel well and double sided tape keeps the flares in gentle contact with the body of the truck. Due to the lower body moldings on this truck, these moldings had to be trimmed or removed to accomodate the flares. The front fender moldings were removed and the rear fender moldings were trimmed using a steady hand and a Dremel with a cutting disc.
The basic installation steps include:
Diamond Plate Rocker Panels
The rocker panels are manufactured by Inovative Creations Inc. (ICI) in Phoenix, AZ. The kit includes panels for the front fender, door, cab, and rear fenders. Available from ICI are 3", 6", and 9" coverage kits. The need for maximum protection necessitated the 9" selection. No installation instructions or hardware are provided. Due to the weight of these panels, it was suggested that they be rivoted on.
Installation occurred over 2 days. Total elapsed time was around 3 hours. For most of the panels, again my brother-in-law Chris was on-hand to assist with the installation. The form and fit of the peices proved to be excellent.
Before beginning, the entire contents of the kit were layed out to correctly locate which panel went on which fender. The fender flares were temporarily removed to install the box panels. A peice of stock was drilled with the 3/8" bit, to double check that this was indeed the correct size for the rivots.
The basic installation steps were as follows:
The 2 longer panels (door and box-before-rear-wheel) need 6 rivots, with 2 rivots being at the mid-point of the panel. The cab panel needs only 2 rivots. And the box-after-rear-wheel panel needs 4 rivots. Becuase of the fender flares, the front fender panels were not installed.
That's it. Look here to see the installed product.
RS5000 Steering Stabilizer
The steering stabilizer is manufactured by Rancho. It's basically a lightly valved RS5000, which is a pretty heavy duty shock. The Rancho steering stabilizer is stiffer than the stock unit, and at slow speed you will notice slightly more effort is needed to turn the wheel. Bump steer problems are improved slightly over the stock unit, but not a heck of a lot. This upgrade as much for looks as function and at $30, that's ok.
The shock includes hardware to replace the tie rod end connecting to the steering linkage and the shock itself. No installation instructions are provided.
Installation occurred over several days, due to my own stupidity. Total elapsed time the last and final day was around 1/2 hour. Basically, I wasted several hours on 2 other days, because I wasn't using the correct tools.
If you don't have a tie rod puller, I suggest you go to a decent auto parts store (I chose Checker) and rent yourself one. I didn't have one the first 2 times I tried to remove the tie rod, and wasted a bunch of time. I was able to rent the thing for free, by placing a deposit down for the full purchase price of the tool. Not a bad deal.
The basic installation steps were as follows:
That's it. Look here to see the installed product.
Transmission Shift Kit
The kit is manufactured by TransGo. This kit will greatly improve the shifting of all of the 42RH-47RE transmissions. The kit helps the transmission hold a given gear longer, under heavy throttle and then allows for quicker/firmer shifting when the shift does occur. For example, prior to kit installation, under full throttle acceleration, the 1-2 shift occurred at 3500 rpm. With the kit installed, the 1-2 shift now occurs at 4000 rpm. As well, the 2-3 shift is now occurring at 4500 rpm (redline for the V10), when before it was also at 3500 rpm. Wow! What an improvement.
Since I was removing the stock pan, I decided to also install the MOPAR performance transmission pan. This had to be ordered and took a week to arrive, so plan on ordering the pan at the same time as the kit, if you want to do the same. The pan comes with a rubber gasket, filter, and brackets to lower the filter. I used TransGo's gasket and did not install the bracket, as it is not necessary on my tranny. The pan has a drain plug to facilitate future transmission work/fluid changes.
Included with the shift kit are several springs, valves, drill bits, and other hardware. Also included are written instructions along with an installation video. I found the video to be excellent and the written instructions incomplete, without the aid of the video. Both must be used for proper installation.
This time, I did all of the work myself. It's really a one man job anyway, as very few things could be done simultaneously. Overall the installation took me 10 hours from start to test drive and cleanup complete. The installation included many steps, and since the video did such a good job of detailing this, I'll avoid rehashing it here. If you were more adept in automatic transmission work, the install would likely take about 4-6 hours. Previously all I had ever done to an auto tranny was change the filter, so the valve body removal and install took noticeably longer than it would take me if I were to repeat this install today.
Tips I'd add to the install include:
Borla Headers, Borla Cat-Back Exhaust System, and Hi-Flow Catalytic Converters
I have upgraded my entire exhaust system from engine to tailpipe. In doing so, I went with Borla headers and cat-back exhaust system. I also went with Hi-Flow catalytic converters purchased and installed at Midas. With the addition of the cat-back exhaust system, I now have true dual exhaust from end to end.
Borla sends 2 manifolds, 3 exhaust pipe sections, 3 muffler clamps, 2 manifold gaskets, 1 EGR valve gasket, and 20 stage 8 manifold bolts with its headers. This system is 100% stainless steel. The headers are 1 5/8" diameter with 2 1/4" diamater exhaust pipes between the collector and the cats. The headers are not an equal length type, but honestly, I cannot see how this would be possible given the limited engine compartment space. No instructions were supplied with the headers, and some would have been nice.
The Borla cat-back system comes with 2 mufflers, 2 exhaust pipes, and 4 muffler clamps all of which are 100% stainless steel. The mufflers are a straight-through design, with the inlet offset from the outlet causing a mild S flow for the air through the muffler. The exhaust pipes are 2 1/4" diameter and wrap together, hanging and exiting from the stock locations. The exhaust tips are Borla's squared, Intercooled variety. No instructions are supplied with the system, but really none are needed.
The Hi-Flow cats were purchased and installed by Midas. Since the V10 has 2 cats stock, 2 were needed for the upgrade. At $500 for the set with installation it was kind of expensive. However, I've heard and believe that upgrading the rest of the exhaust can lead to quick stock cat burn-up anyway, so this gets the system fixed right the first time and back under a warrenty.
I'd break the overall improvement into 2 categories:
Installation of the headers was a major headache. My brother-in-law Chris was not available for this job, so I was left to do it myself. Overall 12 hours of my time, plus 2 hours of Midas and 3 hours of Loper's Performance time was needed to get the job done.
An air hammer and air body saw were used to cut the old exhaust pipes away from the stock cats. This was kinda fun, but left the remains of the old exhaust pipes still inside the stock cats. I never did figure out how to remedy that problem, and if I hadn't wanted to upgrade to hi-flow cats, couldn't have completed the exhaust pipe removal myself.
After the exhaust pipes were cut away, they were unbolted and removed the from manifold. On the passenger side, the front drive line had to be dropped to make room to extract the exhuast pipe out.
With the exhaust pipes off the truck, the exhaust manifolds could be removed. Overall removal proved to be very easy and was done in about 2 hours.
Then came the new installation. I never would have imagined that putting 22 bolts on brand new parts would have been so difficult. Boy was I wrong. Now that I've got the hang of it, I could do the job in about an hour. As it was I spent more than 8. The problem turned out to be that the driver's side manifold wasn't quite shaped perfectly. This caused it to be very difficult to install the manifold bolts. The technique I finally used was to insert a 3/16" allen wrench through one of the 2 manifold bolt holes, and then using that to pry the manifold into place, install the other bolt. The allen wrench really lined up the manifold with where it belonged (moving it maybe around 1/4"), and then installation became a breeze. Until I figured this method out, I was cross-threading the bolts, which is obviously bad.
After the manifolds were on, I decided to take the new exhaust pipes over to Midas and have them install the pipes along with new hi-flow cats. This turned out to be an extremely fun and effective way of installing the exhaust pipes. Fun, because I drove the truck with only the manifolds in place, which was LOUD. And effective, because I hadn't figured out how I was going to get the new exhaust pipes in place, and Midas charged me less than $100 in labor.
Unfortunately, once the headers and exhaust pipes were all installed by Midas and myself, there were tons of exhaust leaks coming from the manifolds. So, I took the truck to Loper's Performance (a local speed shop that specializes in header installation) and had them take a look. They concluded that new gaskets (confirming several people's judgement that the Borla gaskets are junk) and a re-torque all of the header bolts was needed. It cost me $185 to have them redo the manifold installation. However, now they are responsible if the manifolds start to leak in the future.
After full installation of the headers was complete, I was still quite concerned about how close the collector was to the starter motor, and more importantly, the starter wires. I opted to install a starter heat shield not around the starter, but around the bottom half of the collecter, hoping to shield some of the heat away from the wires.
Installation of the cat-back system was a delight. My brother-in-law Chris was on-hand for much of this installation. Overall less than 3 hours was spent doing the installation.
An air hammer was used to remove the old muffler. This was kinda fun, since I'd never used an air-hammer before. The hammer really mangles the old muffler, but the cats were relatively unscathed. Other than that all you have to do is remove two brackets and some muffler clamps. I found using some penetrant on the clamp nuts to be a good idea. After about 5 minutes of soaking, the nuts to come off the u-bolts easily. If the system were really rusted on, then I would have simply cut off the u-bolts with my air cut-off tool. Fortunately, Phoenix doesn't have much of a rust problem.
Once the old stuff was out (took about 1.5 hours), I clamped in the new stuff. I tapped the new mufflers onto the cats with a rubber mallet, then slid the tail pipes on after that. I retained the factory muffler to cat bracket, but used the new u-bolts and nuts, which are all stainless steel. This bracket supports the weight of the exhaust in this area and connects to the frame. Overall installation took about 1 hour with most of the time being spent fussing with the bracket that supports the exhaust near the axle.
That's about it. I highly recommend taking a whack at doing a cat-back system yourself, especially if you have an air hammer, as that thing is a blast to use. But, I'd probably leave the header installation to the pros. There seems to be too much "black magic" involved in it.
Mopar Performance Computer
The Mopar Performance computer is a great, simple upgrade. Available over-the-counter at your local Dodge dealership, or mail order it, like me, from Summit Racing. The upgrade definitely added performance throughout the entire rpm band. On the flip side, Premium Unleaded (92+ Octane) is required, which adds about $.20/gallon here in Phoenix.
Installation is almost mindless. There are 3 screws which secure the computer to the firewall and 2 screws which secure the cable connector.
And that's it. It might take 20 minutes the first time, and less than ten from then on. If you bought your V10, because you tow with it, then you'll want to keep your old computer for towing situations. If you never tow, then you can return the old computer to Mopar for a rebate.
If you don't mind the extra fuel costs, then run, don't walk to get in line for this one...It's a can't miss.
I have done some experimenting with various octanes available in the Phoenix area. With 4.56 gears, 35" BFGs, Borla'd exhaust, and the K&N, I still need to run at least 92 octane fuel. 87 octane starts pinging before 1/2 throttle. 89 octane starts pinging at about 1/2 throttle. 92 octane gives no pinging at any throttle position under any of my empty load tests.
Steve's to-do list:
To email Steve about his truck, email Stephen_D_Belt@ccm.intel.com.