You may recall our project LBMC (Long
Bed Mega Cab), a 2007 Dodge Ram 3500 DRW Mega Cab that's got so
many aftermarket upgrades and enhancements; we're having a hard
time finding a nook or cranny to add anything else to it. We started
this project with just 97 miles on the odometer, and now with over
118,000 miles on the clock, it's probably the longest-running
magazine project truck with continuing coverage in the industry.
We've been running 22.5-inch Alcoa rims and 16 ply tires for the
life of the truck, as we're a little tired of the stiff ride that
the commercial wheels and tires provide. We love how bulletproof they
are and their stability under a heavy load, but they provide a pretty
rough ride, especially when running the truck empty, and we've been
meaning to upgrade the suspension for the last 50,000 miles.
We decided to run Kelderman's 4-Link
Rear Suspension, which will replace the factory suspension with an
auto-leveling four-link model that will allow the truck to ride on
two large air bags. This suspension kit will give us increased load
capability, while producing a more comfortable ride under any
condition, loaded or unloaded. The LBMC will auto-level under any
load and on any surface. It will also allow the truck to lower the
rear end or "kneel," which will make the mundane task of hooking
up a trailer much easier on us, as well as make it a parlor trick
that will impress any onlooker. We're also going to get the
optional air dump with our kit, so when we hit large bumps or the
suspension gets a heavy jolt, the airbags will be able to release air
quickly for an even better ride. In this article, we'll walk you
through what it took to install this kit.
Kelderman has air ride kits for a
variety of makes and models, including the LBMC, which utilize the
same kit as a regular cab long bed or a crew cab long bed. As soon as
the truck had a couple of days off it went back to Precision Bodyline
in North Salt Lake, Utah, for the work. They started by removing the
bumper and bed.
After the bed was removed, the location
of the rear axle was measured to assure that everything went back to
where it needed to be, and the distance from the cab and pinion angle
was noted. Next, they blocked the truck up so that the axle and leaf
springs could be removed from under the truck's frame. We decided
to completely remove the axle so that we could show the install of
this kit in better detail; however, it is not necessary to completely
With the axle removed, we started the
install of the Kelderman air ride. The large control arm brackets
mount directly to the front leaf spring mount with bolts and a few
welds. Then they mounted the control arms and air bags to the axle
mounts, and then to the axle.
After the mounts were in place on the
axle and frame, the axle was then put back under the truck and the
control arms were bolted to the front mounts. The truck was then
lowered back down so that the proper distance from the cab to axle
and pinion angle could be set, and the track bar was installed. The
side-to-side was set so the axle was centered with the frame. The
main air tank and compressor were installed inside the frame and the
air lines were run from compressor to the air tank which then went to
a control valve that was electronically controlled by switches in the
cab of the truck.
The wires were run for the auto
leveling sensors that mounted to the front control arm brackets.
After the air lines and wiring were done, the bed was ready to be
placed back on the truck and the Kelderman kit was ready to set up
for the ride height.
After setting the desired ride height,
we were then ready to start our testing of LBMC's new Kelderman air
ride kit. We took the truck out and drove it for a few days, and
noticed the ride was greatly improved. Then came the towing.
One great feature that this kit has is
the ability to drop the truck and raise it in the cab, which is
for people who tow a lot. When backing
up to a trailer you can drop the rear of the truck, back under the
trailer then raise the truck back up, and there's no need to fight
with the trailer jacks as much. If you have spring loaded or
adjustable feet on your trailer you can simply raise the truck to max
height, set the feet, drop the truck as low as it will go and pull
out from under the trailer. This is far less messing around with
loading and unloading of the trailers. Before the install, when
towing, the truck would jerk or have a tendency to feel as though it
was lunging if you hit a bump in the road. After the Kelderman was
installed, we noticed that LBMC no longer had that lunging feeling.
The truck handled better with and without a load and no longer felt
like you were driving something that required a kidney belt to drive.
This was a great upgrade for project LBMC.
Overall we should have had Precision
Bodyline do this upgrade when they did the long bed conversion. It
would have saved a lot of headache, back ache and Advil. This is just
what we needed on this truck.
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