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cummins TowPig
Build thread for my towpig. Nothing extremely special will be done to this rig but the parts that wear out will be upgraded and documented here.
The goals for my DD is to change it from a pavement princess, to a comfortable, functional daily driver for Alaska.
This is not a hardcore build thread. Mainly just a reference of desired parts I am putting into this thing.

What it started with:
The truck is fully loaded with a subwoofer system, heated seats, gigantic dual exhaust (yes I know the motor has one exhaust port), and an edge juice tuner system.

  1. The first upgrade was actually the first... and it was to remove a gigantic chrome brush guard a coked up squirrel could mangle up because it blinded him with unnecessary amounts of chrome.
  2. The second build was the tranny rebuild. I had the tranny rebuilt by Zach at Z TRANS. good guy, and got my truck back to me in 3 days. This guy is quick and very efficient. I went with a torque converter upgrade from PORKY's TORQUES. I paid for the ZILLA converter. seems to be doing a great job. While it was out of the truck I upgraded to a shift kit.

---------- Post added at 12:32 am ---------- Previous post was at 12:26 am ----------

The plans for the towpig are:
  1. Obtain a airdog2 (or equivalent) fuel system
  2. Don Thuren Springs (leveling)
  3. Replace stock shocks with nitro shocks, and build shock towers
  4. fender flares
  5. build moose worthy front and rear (to match) bumper
  6. build adjustable control arms, move front axle forward 1".
  7. fix bad subwoofer.. driving me nuts lately.
  8. MP3 player for some tunes.
Again, my goal is to make this a functional DD for Alaska. Gotta keep this one nice Smile

---------- Post added at 12:40 am ---------- Previous post was at 12:32 am ----------

It was a flamer for a while. Gave the "bling" away for some normal tail lights.
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Why go messing with stuff that doesn't need messing with? What do you gain by chapping stuff up and moving the axle forward a whole 1"? It's not worth the headache. For a DD/tow rig this isn't necessary and the stock control arms are fine. You would be best not messing with it at least not until the stuff wears out. There is a reason mine has remained mostly stock. It is more than fine in it's original form. I never added any of those monster exhausts or programmers as they all cause issues down the road. I run a superchips flash programmer that just reflashes the computer for a little better fuel mileage and gained a few HP while at it. It's a tow rig and was built from the factory to be one, except for the trans. The only other thing I'm doing is to add the air bags I have to the rear.
the only thing I have added this far is the coil spacer. I like the leveled look, but the axle could stand to be adjusted, that is actually on the low priority list.
with the spring swap I plan on doing is for a better ride up front, and I am reusing the coils for a project on my buggy later on.
and I have planned on building a set of bumpers last summer.
Here is the deal with leveling it. It is set a certain way from the factory for a reason. When you raise the nose up you will lose fuel mileage at higher speeds. Also when you throw a load in the back or hook up heavy trailer load now your front end will point even higher to the sky. As for the ride shocks will improve that more than swapping coils. You put softer coils your front is going to sink. As much as I hate to admit it, engineers and the designers of these things do know what they are doing.

I don't understand what you mean by the axle could stand to be adjusted. When you start moving one thing it affects aobut ten other things. Trust me man, leave it.
I agree with Mel. Leave it alone.

Once you start modifying it, you're putting money into something that isn't broken. Not to mention, once you do that, you're gonna end up needing to make repairs more often as well, because you are changing angles and stresses on parts that were made to function a certain way. It's amazing how much faster joints and bushings wear out when you move things around.

Save the money for the off-roaders, you'll probably need it, especially for gas in the 454, and a trailer to tow both of them around.

I'd also hate to see your DD taken out for a few weeks because it doesn't go quite like you thought and then in the end it never drives or adjusts quite the same way again.

Leveling kits are for folks who don't tow, as Mel's right. The moment you hook a trailer to it, your headlights are pointed too high, and your truck looks stupid. Leave it alone. Moving the front axle, also a bad idea. Remember how much you told me you were going to move the front forward on your K-5? You had to change the plans because it didn't quite work like you thought it would. While 1" isn't much, ignore Pirate 4x4 and look elsewhere to see why it would be an advantage....I don't think it would be. What would you really gain? Are your tires rubbing or something? If you want a longer wheelbase, sell it and go get a CC/Long bed.

Leave it alone, seriously....
the truck handles just the same as it did before the leveling kit,
I would like a softer ride in the front because I drive more than most would drive a truck like mine. the "leveling springs" I am looking at will ride my truck at the same height I have had it at for 10 months with the spacer- and 30k miles. I havent had any issues except for some very minor alignment issues, but I never got those fixed because the parts on the truck are old and have a little movement; which is very managable with 32-33 inch tires. (285/75 r17).

The control arms will stay the same, until the bushings wear out. I have some poly bushings from a energy suspension kit I could still use. I dont mind fabricating up new arms for it. the axle will be pushed forward about .5 to 1 inch so it sits in the stock position/location. For now they do fine and stay the same. The only thing I have replaced up front are the bushings for the track bar. I used some moog half-bushings

For the rear I am thinking about replacing the rear springs. before you say WTF...It looks like there were a set of heavy duty spring pack back there. Ill get some pics up in a bit, but it looks like someone just cut a few leafs out to soften up the ride, and left it like that. It appears that the cut leafs are only useable for spacers. Mel, do you have that on your truck?

Im headed out in a bit to get a snapshot real quick.[COLOR="Silver"]

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[/COLOR]now that i was able to take a better look at it, it looks as if there may have been a "stock" block there, but replaced with two leafs that were cut up and taken out of the pack? i could be wrong. but i have never seen that method of "rear block" stacking before
I peeked under a few similar dodges, the rear springs are suported by a few metal tabs like in the picture above.
This weekend I :
swapped the DT springs, swapped the stock shocks with DT shocks, changed the balljoints out with prosteer ball joints, changed the oil, axle u joints and an outer stub shaft.
My truck is just under the first 100,000 mark.
The dodge actually seems to be sitting a little lower in the front with the DT springs after taking out the rough country spacers.

I picked up an air bag kit to help with the rear suspension, might even give me a little boost in the rear. I havent installed it yet, going to wait until summer or some time off again.

one cool thing I figured out was the outter axle stub in the AAM axle is the same as my 01 dana 60 stock stub outter axle stub. When I was cutting the ujoints out, I accidentally went too far and cut into the stub. I was ready to patch it up, but then i thought that I should compare the stubs from my dana60 axle just in case. well, as it turns out they are nearly identical. even the thread out by the wheel bearing.
Ill post pictures up later
just a few observations I made while working on my dodge this weekend.
I remember when I installed the spacer lift last year. the shocks I installed from BDS had some paint on the threads and acted like a thread lock.
on the Don Thuren shocks, I wire brushed the threads with my angle grinder and installed em without any "threadlocking"
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I couldnt find the bolt/ring retainer for the shock tower i took out a year ago when I installed my leveling spacers. so I ended up welding bolts to the underside of the upper coil buckets.
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here are 3 coil springs next to each other. on the left is the D I C K cepek spring, middle is the Don thuren spring, and on the right is the stock spring
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The outer stub got scored by the grinder when I was removing the Ujoints. They were not able to be pressed out as one piece. So I ended up using an outer stub from a dana 60 axle. (my 2001 2500 dodge). I found that the 2003 AAM axle and dana 60 axle stub shafts are the same.
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---------- Post added at 07:11 pm ---------- Previous post was at 07:07 pm ----------

[/COLOR]some ball joint pressing in pictures:
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and some install/finish pictures:
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---------- Post added at 07:15 pm ---------- Previous post was at 07:13 pm ----------

[/COLOR]I drove from my parents to Mels to my trailer in town. The ride is amazing. Almost like riding in the 2000 chevy I had in 2006. (IFS)
the steering wheel is now crooked for some reason. I need to get the truck in for an alignment soon, Im sure they will fix it then.
future plans may tempt me to swap my spyntech manual hub conversion kit to this rig Smile
just got off the phone from spyntech and they said it is a straight swap. Smile
so I had to install my airbags sooner than I thought. And what a pain in the butt they were. Normally they would go in, crank on a few bolts. but ... the dual exhaust (cat. BACK) made things difficult. I wanted to cut the pipe off to be honest. I was contemplating about a new pipe/muffler system on my truck. But I managed to bend the exhaust pipes inwards a little bit just enough (via ratchet strap) so that my bags had some room between the heat shield. OH. did I mention that the kit only came with one heat shield? yup!! sure makes sense to have a single exhaust port on the motor. I knew that dual exhaust was retarded from the start. One day I will replace it, but it will have to work for now. I will be a bit ticked off if my bags explode from them being too close. Anyway, I think I did a sufficient job in making a decent heat shield out of some computer sheet metal. It seems to be the same thickness as the heat shield that came with the FireStone air bag kit.

It was a fairly easy instal. bottom bracket, air bag, top bracket, nuts, bolts, air lines. super simple.
I aired it all up to 90 psi and it drove like a tank in an empty bed. Aired it down to 10 psi, and it was quite enjoyable!
and pics as always:
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bump stop removal (2 bolts). this was the only thing on the vehicle I had to remove. The rest was simple.
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improvised heat shield:
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After installing the air bags, I ran the air lines to them. My air ports are on both sides of the license plate, I had to drill a 5/16 hole for them to fit through with the air fittings. The fittings were simple, just press the air line into them, add air... done.
just a little update:
I installed the Don Thuren track bar (that was on my 2001 dodge) on the tow pig and it seems to have eliminated all of the wobble/slop in the steering. The truck drives straight, and tight. I am happy for this Smile When I installed the DT track bar I removed the 2 piece MOOG bushings and replaced it with a 1 piece rubber bushing in a metal sleeve (OEM). I used antisieze on the track bar/bushing instal and it seemed to slide right in with the assistance of the press. I am pleased with the results. My truck is level, it has a good set of soft riding spring in the front, and steers straight. I just have to replace a sway bar link that is bent. If I bend it again I will see about reusing my swaybar link I pulled off my 01 dodge.

I have put the dodge to the test with hauling my parents 500 gal. water tank on the back to the truck. It handles really nicely and I am confident it will pull a heavy trailer and a rig to the trail in the future. Smile[COLOR="Silver"]

---------- Post added at 08:17 pm ---------- Previous post was at 08:07 pm ----------

[/COLOR]I was unaware that there was a steering fix for my dodge. I was searching the parts stores for track bars and tie rods, and nothing seemed to match. Apparently the guy who had my truck before me did some upgrading. He installed a (2008 and up) 2500-3500 draglink, and tie-rod steering set up on the truck.

I went to schucks and got some part #s and prices and these arms are NOT cheap. the passenger side tie rod was being sold at $267. holy B*****P Confusedhifty:
I plan on keeping this setup stock Smile. It is nearly a crossover setup, and the tie rod is much much much thicker than the original 2003 OEM setup. When parts wear out on this steering setup, I plan on replacing them AS needed only. spendy stuff. I was only able to find the MOOG steering stuff at schucks. Napa did not carry them yet. Apparently there is not a high enough demand for them to stock them. It is all special order for now.
KLM performance and 8 lug performance and many other sell the entire steering upgrade with better parts than moog. Some are about the same most price was as well.
thats good to know. I cringed at the thought of having to pay that much for a replacement. If I can support an aftermarket offroad business I will do that instead, plus the product quality is better. I do find that the little business guys have to work much harder for their customers, and that work is usually makes the difference with the quality of product Smile
KLM $415 for the steering upgrade. not bad at all.
There are several out there shop around before you buy. I don't remember the difference between yours and mine but I have no issues with my steering and it is more than adequate in strength.
mine is really good. I am happy with it. I am not too excited to pay an outrageous price for new ones in the future though. I would like to see an aftermarket setup that doesnt require replacing a whole arm. I would like to see an aftermarket setup that uses the same joints at the tierod ends much like my chevy ORD crossover setup
So you just want to replace the tie rod and drag link? Most people replacing these see it fit to go ahead and replace the tie rod ends at the same time. Why not do it all now type of thinking.
Money is going to be pretty tight for me in the next few months, but I usually do replace them all at once, and I make sure I buy the quality parts that come with a "limited-lifetime-warranty". the replacement parts are expensive enough to just do some shake down work and replace what is needed when they go bad. However, due to the high cost in these steering parts, I think that considering aftermarket setups could be a possibility too in the future when parts start to get worn out.
At the moment I am good with what I have for my steering setup. ill take some pics of it here just so everyone reading understands what is under my towpiggy[COLOR="Silver"]

---------- Post added at 09:42 am ---------- Previous post was at 09:35 am ----------

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I can say that buying an entire aftermarket set up is cheaper than buying it piece by piece. I've looked into but don't see the need for it.
so .. update..
the tie rod is doing just fine. there is a little wander in the road, but nothing to worry about.
I ended up losing a tire earlier this year (2012) when I ran over something short. It ended up ripping a huge gash in the side wall. I ended up buying a new tire and rotating the tires with the most similar tread up front because I had an annoying wobble at 55+ mph.

My anti swaybar links are disconnected... Well one of them was bent badly enough that when I tried to remove it it broke off. These things are pretty spendy, so I opted to remove both of them. The truck drives a bit more loose around corners at 40+ mph where you are recommended to only drive 30 mph. its handling is predictable. I havent towed a heavy load yet to see how it handles.

This summer I tried something. I tried to just swap the oil filter and not change the oil and test a rumor I heard about changing oil routines. .. well, at 30 degrees F' in the morning my truck was struggling to turn with 6500 miles since the last oil change, any colder it would have stalled. I will assess the morning start up tomorrow to see if it was very thick black tar oil that was contributing to the truck have a hard start, or if I need to investigate my batteries or connector cables. I went to schucks and went with the cheap oil -got Valvoline 15w-40. only $72 for oil and filter. Uses just under 12 quarts. Changed the oil within 15 minutes and cleanup Cool.

If you read this far the truck got a set of leveling springs last winter. I have come across some skyjacker control arms parted from a lift for $100.. this should push my axle forward enough to retain my stock caster angle setting. It will also allow me to fit a 37 inch tire under it. not that I will right now, but if the future permits a very affordable set of 37" tires, I may grab em up for a very easy trail ride. but for now, this truck will remain my DD and toy hauler.
I've done the change only the oil filter thing for years. I only change my oil once a year if that. You can do oil sample testing and it will give you a recommended oil change interval. Use good not cheap oil and you can get by with less oil changes. Cheap oil will not cut it. Go expensive an run amsoil with bypass oil filters and you can go for years.
makes better sense.
how many miles do you think you average between oil changes?
I only run 15w-40 in the summer and a 10w-30 diesel rated conventional oil in the winter. I run a 5w-40 synthetic in my diesel Bobcat year round. Some of the new diesels you have to worry about diesel contamination of the oil during the regen cycle of the DPF. I run my oils, both conventional or synthetic, 5K before a change. If you're pushing the mileage on oil changes, you might look at getting it tested for contaminates, but then the cost of the test kit uses up some of your savings of running your oil longer.
I forgot to mention I added about a quart of Marvel Mystery oil to the mix. good stuff. I use it in my other dodge as an additive and it runs really strong at 130,000 miles. I have had the truck since 75k miles I believe.

I think that using 15w-40 is a good oil for now, the temperatures wont drop below -20 for another 2 months, even if it does it wont be for long. I will do another oil change (probably still has contaminates in it from this prior oil) in 2-3 months and switch to a synthetic oil for the winter, I would like to run a 5w-40 or 10w-40 oil in the winter this time around.
Anyway, the truck needed the oil change badly as it fired up nicely this morning without hardly any resistance. it was about 8 degrees warmer today (35'F) than yesterday (27'F) though. which did not seem too significant
I put over 12,000 some years sometimes less and sometimes more in others. I only run synthetic 15W-40. Never an issue. I tried the 5W-40 but that forces an oil change atleast twice a year. Also plugging a vehicle in with that thin of oil can, not will but can, cause issues. I don't have an emissions vehicle so all that dpf and crap doesn't apply. My manual recommended oil change every 7,500 miles from the factory. So I'm pushing around double that. The oil test I did a few years ago cost me about $100. I plan on doing another one this year. At $100 or there abound for an oil change only having to do it once year the savings add up. But really it's not the money. It's the fact there isn't the need to do it. I use valvoline blue designed to the specifications set forth by cummins. Cummins ran it with bypass filters and got 100,000 miles out of the oil in multiple vehicles.
I got to thinking about this. $100 seemed high for the oil analysis. And well it was, sort of. I had bought a pack of test kits that included the kit and the testing. But only ever used one of them and have no idea what happened to the other ones. I did this through Geno's garage. I think this time I'm either going to order one of the Cummins filtration test kits or just use Blackstone labs. Both will give a break down of the oil and any issues along with possible causes. The blackstone kit is free and you only pay for the test to be preformed. On average seems most places are $20-$40 for the tests. Guess it depends on if you want more tested.

Another option is to head to NC machinery and see if they do them here or the Cummins/kentworth place on vanhorn. May be a few other places that do them locally as well.

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