Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ram Trucks-The Good Part Two

usbackroads--Ram Trucks Part Two

Ok, every guy knows that we pick the trucks based on horsepower, rear end ratio's (hmmm, I will have to think more on this one), and rear slip differential (is that a SF thing??).   In the picture above Snowpatch is shown for scale.

The Federal Government is the largest purchaser of vehicles in the United States.  And it is low bid.  So you can imagine what the BLM and Forest Service rigs were outfitted with in the 1970's.  AM radios??  Well, that was a luxury item that the Federal Government was NOT going to pay for in a vehicle.  Air your dreams.  So on dusty roads there was more dust IN THE VEHICLE than behind the vehicle!!

This all changed with the energy crises in the late 1970's.  All of the sudden Detroit could NOT sell anything, but to the Federal Government.  So all the sudden, BLM had rigs with air conditioning and AM radio's.  So did all the BLM employees fight over horsepower, rear end ratio's and slip differentials??  Nope, they all wanted an AM radio and AIR CONDITIONING not to mention the BUCKET SEATS. 

Think about it.  Most trucks are fairly similar in terms of ability go down the road or trail.  Well, I had a three speed automatic with BLM.  You DO NOT want a truck like that.  It shifted into second at 20 mph's and had NO low end torque.  That will tell you where I fit in the BLM pecking order.

Given similar tires, rear end ratio's, etc. most trucks will be more than adequate in the woods or on the road.

That leaves you the interior package and the all important sound system.  I admit that we waited a year for the new Ram interior redesign and it was worth the wait.

Ok, everybody knows about heated seats.  The Ram comes with COOLED seats.  Now I thought that was the dumbest thing, until I turned them on.  Even with the dry heat of the west.....worth it.  I have not tried the heated steering wheel after a year.  That might be a bit much.

Finally a zone cooling system.  Worth the wait.  One for me, one for Susie, and one for Bugaboo and Snowpatch in the backseat.

Stereo system is pretty cool.  Two glove boxes.  Ipod connector in one.  Fewer cup holders than in the 96 Ram, but better locations. 

Bucket seats are comfortable, though Susie hates the headrest on her seat.  Those infamous FOB's from hell do have the ability to reset all drivers seats, mirrors, etc based on which key is inserted into the ignition.  That might be important if two of you drive the same vehicle and are of significantly different heights.

It has TWO 12-volt outputs and one 120 volt output.  So your laptop can just be plugged into the dash.  There are really more gizmo's and settings that I have not bothered to learn them all in the year that I have owned the truck.

Where the interior is lacking is where to put the GPS, phone, laptop, satellite phone, work folders, pens, pencils, etc. etc.  The original RAM design was a "working" truck.  Dodge should continue that train of thought.  If I have a plug for a laptop, it means I need a place for the laptop.  Maybe a velcro patch where the GPS antenna can sit.  Maybe a spot for a two-way radio??   A way to port video to the "multi-media" screen?  All that stuff goes into a truck these days and it will be somewhere.  So design a place for it.

Stick a  200 watt marine solar panel on the roof.  Keeps the battery charged.   Lets you do all sorts of things.  It is just wasted space on that roof.

 I was excited about the box storage in the cab.  I put the chains and tightners in there and promptly forgot about them.  But it is nice to have a place where they are out of sight.  Way back in the 1980's I had a special rack built behind the truck seat for my speakers, chains, shotgun, etc.  It worked great, but nobody has really followed up on that concept.  Make the rear seats removable.  The dogs don't care and there would be more room for work equipment.  The extended cab, the new frontier in industrial design!

We were excited about the RamBox, but it did not come in the one-ton trucks at that time.  Looks like a great idea.  Maybe somebody should redesign the entire pickup bed.

The Ram has a good interior,  I preferred it to the Ford interior.  Never did look at a Chevy, but that is a different story.  You live in the inside of your truck.  And like those BLM employees it did make a difference to which truck they picked.

We waited a year for the new interior in the Ram and are glad we waited.  The 2011 Ram Truck.  I would buy it again.  Stay tuned for Part 3 where we will cover those "unimportant" things like engine, transmission, and other stuff.


Anonymous said...

Howdy Vlad...Don't forget "block heaters". When I last ordered my Silverado I lived in Seattle. I got all the options...except....Wish I had now that I live in the Wenatchee N.F. You have heard that the Lake Wenatchee/ Plain area has had over 67" of snow in the past few weeks??
Take care,

Vladimir Steblina said...

The block heater came "STANDARD"!!

Great option. I keep the truck plugged in during fall and winter.

Larry said...


I'm considering buying a 2012 Ram 3500 4X4 SRW and I'm concerned about the bed rail height being too high for my 2008 Cardinal 5th wheel. My current Ford rails are 54" and the new Ram is 59". 5" is a big difference!! My Ford has about minimum clearances now. I'm being told that once hooked up the back of the truck will squat enough to level the truck and trailer but I have my doubts. My Ford does squat enough that I needed air bags to bring it back to level but, it's an F250 and not a 3500.

The new 3500 DOES have a spacer with three leaf thicknesses under the spring pack that could easily be removed to lower the very back of the truck about 3". I see you had to buy a new 5th wheel. When level, how far off the ground is the bottom of your new rig that fits over the rails. That would tell me if there's any hope my rig will fit over the rails of a new Ram with enough clearance. I certainly won't be ordering the new truck if I have to go out and buy another rig too if it isn't going to fit. My second choice was a Chevy but they are even higher in the rear than the Ram.

Thanks for any help you can give,


Vladimir Steblina said...

When I finally hooked up the Cameo to the Dodge Ram it "squated" about an inch!!

I had about three inches of clearance to start. The Cameo could be raised two inches. The RV dealer said I would get maybe two or three when I attached. I only got ONE.

So I ended up with a total of six inches of clearance. Which so far has worked ok. I have not touched, but I am very careful about where I exit and enter.

Lowering the RAM was a bit more of an issue in the 2011 and I stayed away from it.

My advice would be to try and get a minimum of six inches of clearance BEFORE looking for any "squat" clearance. Just take that as a bonus.

Have you looked at a flat-bed and a custom bed?? The flat-beds were much cheaper and I think you can probably get a custom bed for the same price.

We will hook-up again on Friday and will try and remember to measure. I found the measurement error was significant just holding a tape to the no promises on the accuracy.

Tell me EXACTLY what you want me to measure....."When level, how far off the ground is the bottom of your new rig that fits over the rails."

Do you mean from the ground to the top of truck bed rail?? Or the bottom of the 5th wheel to the bed rails??

Is there anyone you know with a 2012 with a 5th wheel hitch that you can just hook up?? You might want to check with some of the RV dealers with service departments as some have them just to move rigs around.

The local RV dealer was great to work with on this issue. He picked up the 5th wheel, before I bought it and confirmed that we could get six inches. I paid for raising the Cameo two inches. That made it real high for getting in and out.

The other option was to flip the axle's in the 5th wheel. But that would have required new stairs to get in and out of the 5th wheel!!

I just cannot believe that the truck companies are NOT addressing this issue.

Larry said...

Sorry Vlad,

I may have repeated my post today. I'm new to blogs and didn't realize my original went through. Please delete today's.

When you 5th wheel is level, please measure from the bottom of the 5th wheel to the ground. I need that height measurement to compare with my 5th wheel to see what needs to be done, if anything is even possible.

How did they raise your 5th wheel? Did you have shackles with additional holes or did they block the springs? Mine doesn't have adjustments and the shackles are welded in place. My local RV shop said there is no way they would add spring blocks due to liability issues.


Larry said...

Oh, also, my axles are already under the spring pack, we live in the boonies, there is only one RV dealer within 100 miles, he doesn't have a Dodge and no one I know has one to hitch up. Bad situation when you want a new truck and need to order soon.


Vladimir Steblina said...

I do not know if you are familar with the Escapees Discussion Forum, but a great group. They have a LOT more expertise than I do.

Here is the thread I started with them on this same issue.

Just copy and paste into your browser.

We are camped. The botton of the 5th wheel to the ground is 61 1/2 inches.

You can also send directly to my e-mail.

Larry said...

Thanks. Looks like a new Ram is not in my future since I see no way it's going to pull my Cardinal without major modifications to both the truck and the trailer. I'm not even wanting to deal with that and I want to start traveling NOW!. My 2002 F250 is looking better every minute. I can spend another 5K on it and it will be bullet proof and I'll be 50K ahead.

Thanks for your insight and time,