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EMADJPEREZ

East Los Angeles

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Posted: 03/24/08 01:32pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

WOW,
I'm jealous! Great pix, great trip. Now for sure I want to ditch my 1500 2x4 and and a 2500 4x4.

The Mad Norsky

Yankton, South Dakota

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Posted: 03/24/08 03:24pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Kudos to you gents for bringing out other factors in your trip.(tire pressures, sway bar limits to axle articulation, limiting straps, etc.)

All good points, and good information for anyone planning to duplicate your trip.

RockyRoadCamper

Browder, Ky, USA

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Posted: 03/24/08 04:08pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Don and Steve: Thanks so much for the in-depth reasons for NOT taking a crew cab, dually and a big hard side t/c on the WRT. I also appreciate the list of "extra" tools, to include tank seals, 53,000 lb yank out line, shackles and survival gear. That is one beautiful rough road and you have to be able to take care of yourself. You three together made a great team. We really enjoyed your story and photos. When we go we will rent a 4 x 4 jeep in town!! We also love to hike!

Preston in western KY with a F-450 and a Okan 117 which clearly adds up to too much for the WRT

silversand

Montreal

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Posted: 03/24/08 05:12pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for the axle articulation limiting info guys. Much appreciated.

Cheers,
Silver-


Silver
2004 Chevy Silverado 2500HD 4x4 6.0L Ext/LB Tow Package 4L80E Michelin AT2s| Outfitter Caribou

blindhog

Austin, Texas

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Posted: 03/27/08 05:05pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful adventure and the pics make it that much better. Looking forward to this same trip myself.

luv2skyski

Stockbridge, Georgia

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Posted: 03/28/08 06:02am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

WOW! I'm sooo jealous! That looks like so much fun. I wish I lived out west. I see a lot of beautiful country during our adventures but nothing like that. Thank you for the incredible pictures and trip report. I love reading about other peoples trips. Especially ones like yours and Whazoos. Thanks again, Dave.

DonCurley

La Sal, Utah

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Posted: 04/04/08 11:08pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Dodge Ram 3500 CTD Undercarriage Modifications

In preparation for the White Rim Trail trip (as well as future off-road excursions with our Dodge Ram 3500 and Outfitter Apex 8 pop-up camper), I wanted to install a full set of factory skid plates on my pickup. With Silversand’s new Truck Camper Trip Reports sticky in mind, Silver suggested that I add this write-up as an additional post to my original White Rim Trail trip report so it could be linked to the "Expedition Pre-preparation & Mechanical Modifications" sub-forum.

As background, I had a 2007 Dodge Power Wagon with a 5.7L HEMI gasser that did not work out for hauling a slide-in camper (long story), so I ended up trading it in for a 2007 Ram 3500 with a 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel. While the Ram 3500 had the better load carrying capacity and pulling power that I wanted for my Outfitter Apex 8 (particularly in demanding off-road conditions), it lacked the undercarriage skid plate protection that came with the Power Wagon (the latter of which was a purpose-built and highly capable off-road pickup). Since I was going to be using my truck and camper for fairly rugged off-road use, I wanted to find a way to equip it with the array of skids from a Power Wagon. This took quite a bit more effort to make happen than I first thought.

While I was trying to figure out how to add a fuel tank skid and the skid rails, I first purchased and installed a Defiant Rock Shield. This was a straightforward install and here are some pics of that:
[image]

[image]

[image]

I went ahead and purchased the Power Wagon fuel tank skid (P/N 52121265AB) and skid rails (P/N 52121534AA), along with what I was told was the fuel tank crossmember (P/N 52121444AC), but that latter part turned out to be something of a mystery skid plate looking part. Here are pics of these parts:
[image]

[image]

[image]

There is a long story behind this (corroborated by several Dodge dealerships and on-line parts sources), but as odd as it may seem, you cannot purchase the actual fuel tank crossmember from a Power Wagon as it is apparently a non-orderable part associated with the Power Wagon frame assembly. Here is a pic of that needed part from a Power Wagon:
[image]

This situation forced me into fabbing-up the crossmember in question so the front of the Power Wagon fuel tank skid and the rear of the skid rails could be appropriately bolted down. In a thread on DodgeTalk.com, another forum member was a big help in that he was good enough to carefully measure and provide me with the dimensions of the Power Wagon's fuel tank crossmember.

As long as I had to fab-up the crossmember, I decided to improve upon the factory's design. Instead of employing the stock Power Wagon's J-shaped end brackets (which only allow for a small contact point against the bottom of the frame rails), I decided to go with simple 90 degree end brackets and spacers. This allowed for a full contact patch under each frame rail. I also increased the wall thickness of the crossmember, brackets, and the main spacer from the factory's 1/8" to 3/16" thick steel. Here are some shots of the welded-together crossmember before and after painting:
[image]

[image]

[image]

And here are some test fit shots for the new crossmember showing the grade 8 bolts I used to affix each end bracket to the frame rails (which I had to drill & tap the frame rail sides for):
[image]

[image]

[image]

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Here is a shot of the rear passenger side fuel tank stanchion bolt-up using factory metric body bolts (which only needed to be pre-drilled, as the body bolts are self-tapping):
[image]

Here are three pics showing the final installation of the crossmember, fuel tank skid, and skid rails:
[image]

[image]

[image]

One of the other challenges with this install was the 6.7L CTD exhaust and after-treatment system. There is a much larger diameter catalytic converter and an even more huge diesel particulate filter (DPF) unit ... both of which partially hang down below the frame rails. If you have a Dodge 2500/3500 gasser or a 5.9L CTD, you won't have to deal with this lovely "stuff". Beyond their size, there is also a different mid-crossmember which has a big dip in it to clear the bottom of the cat converter (instead of the totally straight and level mid-crossmember used in a Power Wagon). Based on this, when I went to install the Power Wagon skid rails, I discovered that I needed to stand-off the rear half of the two outboard (passenger side) rails so I would have adequate clearance with the bottom radius of the cat converter (and you can see the 1/2" and 1" steel spacers I ended up using for this purpose in the last shot above). I didn't really like how this made the "look" of the installation appear somewhat staggered, but that's what I had to do. At least the skid rails are in, and they do afford protection for the cat converter.

I also ran into some issues with the front steering damper skid plate from a Power Wagon. Here is a shot of that from the front end of a Power Wagon:
[image]

I inadvertently got a bad part number for this skid plate (P/N 82210014) and instead ended up with this really long and rectangular skid (that cannot be mounted):
[image]

Another DodgeTalk member helped out and provided the correct part number of P/N 52121419AC, so I currently have this on order from MoparPartz.com (which I should receive next week). As it turns out, a U-bolt will need to be used for the inboard mounting point (to go around the front axle shaft housing on the passenger side), but this approach will work based on what another person did for a Dodge 2500 with a CTD. Once I get this final skid on, I will have all of the Power Wagon skid plates on my Dodge 3500 (which includes a transfer case skid plate, which did come stock with my 3500).

Needless to say, this project took a lot more time and effort than I originally figured on, but it can be done. And with the exception of the front steering damper skid, I was also able to complete this project in preparation for the 3/15-3/18/08 White Rim Trail trip with Steve_in_29 and Nemo667.

Don


-'07 Dodge 3500/QC/SB/SRW/4x4/6.7L CTD/6-spd auto/35" Toyo MT's/Ride-Rite air bags/RS9000XL shocks
-'07 Apex 8 fully optioned w/220W solar/2 T-145's/2KW Prosine/Honda EU2000i/Tundra fridge/AC/etc
-'00 Jeep Wrangler TJ 4x4, highly modified w/5.9L Magnum V8


DonCurley

La Sal, Utah

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Posted: 04/05/08 08:52am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Outfitter Rear Tie-Down Anchor Point Reinforcement

As with my Dodge 3500 undercarriage modifications post above, Silversand suggested that I add this write-up as an additional post to my original White Rim Trail trip report so it could be linked to the "Expedition Pre-preparation & Mechanical Modifications" sub-forum in the new Truck Camper Trip Reports sticky.

-----------------------

Since the intended use for my Outfitter Apex 8 pop-up was off-road camping in some pretty rugged areas in Utah, Colorado, and other such places in the southwest, I knew it was likely that some pretty substantial shock load forces would likely be delivered to my rear tie-down anchor points with the rigors of 4WD travel in challenging off-road conditions. And while I could not positively predict that I would suffer any damage in these areas, it seemed prudent to prevent any failure from happening in the first place, as it would likely be more difficult to repair damage to the structural aluminum tubing in a manner that would re-establish its original strength. So, with the White Rim Trail trek coming up in mid-March with Steve_in_29 and Nemo667, I decided to substantially reinforce these key areas in advance of the trip.

To begin with, I wanted to more carefully inspect how Outfitter had approached the rear tie-down anchor points in my Apex 8 camper. I removed the lower fridge vent cover and vent surround to gain access to the rear drivers side tie-down anchor point. I then removed a small hinged hatch cover assembly to gain access to the same area on the rear passenger side. From the look of things, it appears that Outfitter drills a vertical hole in the top of the 1"x1" structural aluminum tubing and down through the bottom of the camper side (or they possibly drill up from the bottom into the aluminum tubing). It then looks like they drive in a barbed T-nut from the top of the aluminum tube, and this becomes the threaded element to screw-in and secure a 3/8" eyebolt on each side (coming up from the bottom). While perfectly acceptable for the “normal” range of travel while on-highway and even easy to moderate off-road use, I was concerned as to whether barbed T-nuts in such an application would hold up to the abuse of more strenuous off-road conditions. Also, here is a photo of typical barbed T-nuts:
[image]

Again, with my very specific purpose in mind, it is my opinion that T-nuts are a bit too light-duty, as they do little to spread shock load forces over a larger surface area of the very thin-walled aluminum tubing sections. In any regard, here are some shots of the drivers & passenger sides:
Drivers side shot:
[image]

Another drivers side shot:
[image]

Passenger side shot:
[image]


In terms of reinforcing these key areas, I originally intended to go with steel flat bars to cover a larger area of the aluminum tubing (to spread the load and forces out over a larger surface area). However, I ultimately decided to go with 3/16” thick angle iron. I further decided to go with two pieces of angle iron for each side, where the pieces would be welded together to form a very strong 90 degree assembly to cover both shear and compression forces. And since I wanted to come up through the backing plate assembly with the threaded shank of the tie-down eyebolts (to be secured with nuts), I could not reuse the existing eyebolts that Outfitter originally installed, since they had been cut-off flush to the T-nut surfaces. Due to this, I purchased two 3/8” drop-forged T-316 stainless steel eyebolts. Here is a shot of the new eyebolts:
[image]

I might add that I had hoped to keep both T-nuts in place, however, they both stood up too high off the top surface of the aluminum tubing to allow the reinforcing backing brackets to sit flush. I ground down the drivers side T-nut sufficiently so the bracket could sit down flush. However, when I went to grind down the passenger side T-nut, it got so thin and vibrated around so much, that it just became dislodged from the top of the aluminum tubing section and I decided to just leave it off that side.

So here is a shot of the reinforcing backing brackets after machining, drilling, and welding:
[image]

Here are some test fit shots of the drivers side and passenger side reinforcing backing brackets:
[image]

[image]

And here is a shot of the same parts after test fit removal and painting:
[image]

Before the final installation, I wanted to make sure that the hollow aluminum tubing sections under each horizontal leg of the brackets were strengthened against any possible collapse. I accomplished this by injecting a small amount of expanding foam near the ends of the horizontal segments of the reinforcing backing brackets, as well as where the vertical segment of aluminum tubing took off from the lateral segment. After curing, I then mixed up a fairly large batch of JB Weld, heated it to decrease viscosity and increase its flow characteristics, and used a large plastic syringe to inject the JB Weld into the horizontal aluminum tubing sections via the drilled holes for the self-tapping screws. I did this until each tubing segment was full and the JB Weld level was beginning to exit the drilled holes. I then coated the shanks of the new eyebolts with cooking oil (so the JB Weld would not adhere to them during curing in case I ever needed to remove or replace them), and pushed them up through the reinforcing backing brackets and secured them with washers and nuts. I then threaded-in and tightened the self-tapping screws into the remaining holes.

Here are a couple of shots of the final installation:
[image]

[image]

I ran into a problem when I went to reinstall the small access hatch cover assembly on the passenger side. The heads of the self-tapping screws stood up too high and did not allow enough clearance for the surround/framework of the hatch door assembly to seat all the way into the opening in the side of the camper. The bolt heads in the corners were no problems due to the curvature of the hatch door surround, so I ended up only removing the middle bolt on the horizontal leg and the middle and upper bolts on the vertical leg. After doing a quick countersinking job on the three holes with a right angle drill motor, I replaced the offending bolts with countersunk flat-head stainless steel machine screws. Here is a shot of that:
[image]

This allowed enough clearance for the hatch assembly to seat all the way into the opening. I recaulked the hatch with 100% silicone sealant and securely screwed the hatch frame down

Going back to the drivers side, I needed to modify the lower fridge vent surround to fit with the newly installed reinforcing backing bracket. After carefully measuring and marking the surround, I used a Dremel equipped with a small cut-off saw blade to make the various relief cuts. After deburring the surround and test fitting it, I recaulked it with silicone sealant and securely screwed it back down. Here is a shot of that:
[image]

While I can’t say that I would have suffered any damage in these areas over the long haul, I at least can say that I feel a lot more assured that I won’t now. Not that I expected any different outcome, however both reinforcing backing brackets came through the White Rim Trail trip with flying colors.

Don

Harleybullet

Holbrook, NY

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Posted: 04/05/08 06:25pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

This is now part of by "bucket list" I have been to Arches with the camper and by motorcycle from NY and love the area but I have never have seen these area.....can you tell me if any part of that trail can be done by a dually with a big camper (AF1150).

If it could be done where would on be able to find it?

Dave

DonCurley

La Sal, Utah

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Posted: 04/05/08 07:58pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Harleybullet wrote:

This is now part of by "bucket list" I have been to Arches with the camper and by motorcycle from NY and love the area but I have never have seen these area.....can you tell me if any part of that trail can be done by a dually with a big camper (AF1150).

If it could be done where would on be able to find it?

Dave


Dave,

Please look back at the top of page 3 of this thread where I tried to answer this question and then Steve_in_29 also added his comments.

As I previously indicated, you might be able to make it, but I wouldn't advise it, and there are at least a couple of spots where damage to a large hard-sided camper would almost be certain. There are also a couple of narrow spots where a dually would complicate matters (and as Steve mentioned, you would probably be hanging one of the outboard wheels over the edge into mid-air).

In terms of where the White Rim Trail is located, take a look at the beginning of my original post on page 1 which will give you some additional information. Basically, the Island in the Sky section of Canyonlands NP is just to the west of Arches NP (the entrance station and visitors center is ~25 miles on Hwy 313 off of Hwy 191). You can easily explore the mesa top with its many overlooks and short walks, camp at Willow Flat NP campground or Dead Horse State Park campground. You can even go down the Shafer Trail or Mineral Bottom Road on a day use basis with a dually and a hard-sided camper. And in reality, I would say that maybe 80% of the 100+ mile White Rim Trail could be negotiated with a rig like yours, but ~10% would be a real white-knuckle challenge, and the remaining 10% could stop you and you rig dead in its tracks, or cause a lot of damage (even with excellent off-road driving skills and a lot of luck). You also need to get a backcountry permit from the NP to go on the WRT, and getting the days you want (especially in the spring or fall), could take up to a year on a waiting list.

Honestly, you would really be better off with a smaller truck (i.e., a SRW), and a smaller/shorter camper (such as a pop-up). Most people do the WRT in small 4x4 vehicles with no campers, on mountain bikes, or on dirt bikes (motorcycles). For what it's worth, I am sure there were a fair amount of people who saw us that probably figured we were a bunch of ill-advised nuts for even going in there with full-sized pickups and pop-up campers.

Don

P.S. (on edit): Dave, I should clarify something for you. When I say that maybe ~80% of the WRT is doable with your rig, with the remaining ~20% being the problem areas that could get you into trouble, keep in mind that there are no bypasses or alternate routes for these areas on the trail. You have to take it as it comes, and short of turning back and reversing your course, you can't pick and choose what you are going to attempt or not.

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