BoldAdventures 2015 Power Wagon Build

#1
2015 Ram 2500 Power Wagon Laramie
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Vehicle Objective:

The purpose of this build is to support our family of four, in both on and off-road adventures. The rig needs to serve a multi-purpose role of towing regularly and handling overnight off-road adventures. We're seeking a compromise between capable trail rig, tow rig and rock crawler.

Where it stands today:
[Updated: March 11th, 2018]



SUSPENSION / AXLE:

ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN:

VEHICLE ARMOR:

ELECTRICAL / LIGHTING

COMMUNICATIONS
  • Yaesu FT 8900R
  • Larsen NMO2/70B
  • WeBoost Drive 4G-M (cellular booster)
  • Surecall 9 inch magnetic antenna

EXTERIOR APPEARANCE & FUNCTION:
  • 15% Ceramic Tint on Drivers & Passenger front windows
  • 5% Ceramic Tint on all rear windows Windows
  • 5% Ceramic Tint glare strip on windshield
  • AVS in channel vent visors
  • Bakflip HD Tonneau Cover
  • Dethloff Custom RamBox Adventure Rack

INTERIOR MODIFICATIONS:
  • Husky Weather Beater floor liners
  • Koomus K2 Dashboard iphone mounts
  • RAM Mounts (RAM-B-316-1-202U) Universal No-Drill Vehicle Mount 18" Rigid
  • Ram Mount EZ-ROLL'R Model Specific Cradle for the Apple iPad mini
  • Mopar Rambox storage organizer

RECOVERY & EMERGENCY GEAR:
  • 48" Hi-Lift Jack All-Cast in Black
  • 30' ARB Recovery Strap
  • ARB Tree Saver Strap
  • x2 Crosby 1018534 Carbon Steel Shackle, 1" Size
  • x2 Crosby 1018534 Carbon Steel Shackle, 3/4" Size
  • x2 WARN 92093 Epic Shackle 3/4"
  • Automotive Fire Extinguisher
  • Road Flares
  • ARB Tire Repair Kit
  • x2 Viair 300P + x2 - 20ft air hose
  • MAXSA Innovations Escaper Buddy

PLANNED MODS:
(Still in the works as I evaluate our needs through trial and error.)
  • Dynatrac Free-Spin Hubs with DynaLoc hubs
  • 4.88 Regear
  • Synthetic winch line (either 3/8th or 7/16 probably 100ft)

VIDEO OF THE TRUCK IN ACTION




 
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#2
WHERE IT BEGAN

A little backstory to fill you in. A few years ago I converted my wife's 2003 Chevy Trailblazer from daily driver into an expedition vehicle. The build and subsequent adventures made us fall in love with the west and off-roading in general. Our build thread can be viewed here.



One day in 2013 we realized that we felt more at home in our "Adventure Mobile" then we felt in our three bedroom, two car garage home in Florida. The road was calling to us. The desire to leave Florida was growing.



When we discovered we were expecting our first child, we dreamed up a plan to sell everything, change careers and travel across the country full time.

We grew tired of the rat race and living for the weekends and never having time to see or explore.

Fast forward to May 2015, and we set off on this adventure as a family of four living, working & exploring the USA in our Airstream.





Our first truck was a 2010 Ram 1500. I modified it mildly to maintain towing performance. That included Bilstein 5100 adjustable shocks up front with 2 inches of lift and 5100's out back. Along with Tuff trucks coils that raised the rear 2-inches. And I upsized the tires with Toyo Open Country AT/II's.





For our first year on the road, she was a strong performer. But where she lacked was still in off-road capability. While in Anza Borrego, CA, I kept coming up against the limitations of the stock 1500.



We meet up with a friend who was pulling a 30ft Airstream with his 2015 Powerwagon over the New Year holiday. The wife and I began discussing upgrading to an HD truck. Specifically a Power Wagon. had talked about the desire to build another expedition rig.

We considered having the wife follow along with a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, but we just didn't want the hassle of a second vehicle with this lifestyle. We thought about a diesel which would of been better for towing, but to make it really worthy off-road we'd need to mod the truck. And that was a sore point.

In choosing this lifestyle, I gave up the garage, and it's hard for me to shell out money to a shop on things I want to do myself. So if we bought a diesel, we'd still need to get work done. Which meant finding shops while traveling.

The Power Wagon was just ticking all the marks in the PRO's column for us. In March while in Las Vegas, we came across a 2015 Power Wagon Laramie that had all the options that our 2010 had minus a sunroof. And we jumped on it immediately. Buying out of state is a bit of a hassle, but it was worth the admission price. :cool:



The Power Wagon could tow our Airstream, and give us the capability we desire to do things off-road in a mostly stock trim.







Now to get started with the mods. :lol:
 
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#3
First Mods


Window Tinting

I wasted zero time getting right to the modifications. For starters, traveling around the country with kids meant one thing for me. We NEED TINT. I don't like driving around in a fish bowel. And I decided to take advantage of the lax laws in Nevada.

I ended up purchasing Ceramic Tint which claims to block 90% of the heat. And went with 5% around the back windows for the kiddo's and privacy and 15% on the front windows with a 5% glare strip on the windshield. I had the work done by Precision Window Tint in Henderson, NV. They do excellent work.

The results, perfect:





After the tint was cured for a few days, I installed AVS in channel vent shades. I've been installing these on most of my vehicles for awhile. So the Power Wagon gets them too.



Intake & Exhaust

Within the first week of ownership I was already giving money to the Jeff Bezos retirement fund (aka Amazon). I placed an order for a K&N intake and Magnaflow muffler.

We can all debate the worthiness of the next mod. Typically I'm a Volant intake guy. But K&N is the only one on the market for the 6.4L right now, so what the heck.



I had also purchased a Magnaflow 12589 muffler. On my 1500 I had installed the Mufflex 14inch muffler. And I liked the sound. This time I thought I'd try something a little similar but more custom.

Took it to a local exhaust shop in town, paid $200 even to have it installed and have the trash can resonator removed. Was very clear about wanting it to be out of the way for ground clearance.

What he came up with was fantastic. I'm very happy with the results.











You can check out an exhaust clip here. I waited a couple of days for the exhaust to break in before recording it.


Amazingly there is no drone. To be completely honest, I was disappointed at first. It was quite. And I think I am used to dual exhaust. I've owned several Camaros, a Pontiac G8 GXP and Corvette. All of which had loud, dual exhaust systems.

But after a few days break in time, it became audibly louder. But it's not extremely loud in any sense. When you mash the peddle you hear it. When you are cruising, it's barely noticeable.
 
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BlkWgn

Adventurist
Senior Staff
Founding Member
#5
Thanks, Dave. Time to get the ball rolling here. Went ahead and placed an order for White Knuckle Sliders - just powder coated.
I thought about getting them LineX'd or the like, but I don't see myself bouncing off rocks. I'm more likely to bang against or actually slide down with my style of wheeling.

Order - should take 4 - 6 weeks for production. We plan on picking them up in Apple Valley, CA.

You will be very happy with them, and will definitely want to add the grip tape
 
#6
I feel like documenting this. I know it's not part of the build, but I'm documenting it anyways. :p
---
I think the reason to own a winch is to help friends in need. Three weeks of ownership and we used our winch twice in one weekend now!

First on our way out of Zion we came across a family from California that just pulled over to take some photos and got their Tacoma stuck in the mud.



Then today a full-timing family who we follow on Instagram got their truck, and 5th wheel stuck in some pretty gnarly mud down near Lake Mead. We hadn't met them yet, but decided since they were only 2hrs away to head down and help them out.
This is how stuck they were:



First, I winched out his truck. Which was easy enough.



Then had him come back at an angle and try to keep the front tires on as much solid ground as possible. This way he could hitch up and drive forward. But the weight was still to much.
I hooked up the winch line and got it nice and tight. Then I had him drive forward on a thumbs up while I pulled in reverse using 4Low to keep the line tight. I figured this would keep his truck and rig from sliding back into the mud. And it all worked out.



Not an ideal winching situation in the second round. Would have preferred to use a strap (if I had one at the time). That's a lot of stress to place on the winch brake. But it was only for a few brief seconds. And all appears well.

You can see video proof here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BEB4tdNqvdY/
 

TangoBlue

Adventurist
Senior Staff
Founding Member
#7
Take it for what it's worth... and I appreciate your situation... you are absolutely correct that this recovery was less than an ideal situation. Murphy must have been taking a nap "for a brief few seconds" which worked to your advantage. :thumbsup

1. Never tow with a winch line. When you introduce a quick, sudden load to a winch, that’s called a “shock load.” Imagine taking a piece of rope in both hands, then quickly pulling it taught - that’s a shock load. Shock loading is very stressful on a winch’s internals. Proper winching gradually places a load on the winch, which is how it is designed to be used. You should never use a winch rope for towing due to shock loading. While you may have the best intentions of gradually introducing the load while attempting to tow a vehicle, the vast majority of the time it doesn’t happen that way, and the winch will receive shock loads.

Always use a proper tow strap for towing. For those attempting a recovery with a strap, be sure to have the proper unit as well. Recovery ("snatch") straps will have a bit of elasticity to them that allow for that rubber-band effect that aids in recovery. Tow straps do not have that elasticity.

Polyester recovery straps stretch only about 2-3 % at full 100% tug, which is a predictable characteristic for a controlled pull. You can more easily predict how the strap will react under load, which means you can more easily prevent damage to the vehicles involved in the recovery. The downside of this characteristic is that the strap will jerk when the line becomes taut; the force of the jerk can damage frames, bumpers, and other tow points. It’s also safer at its limit because it doesn’t recoil – there’s nothing to snap back because it doesn’t stretch.

Nylon straps stretch like a rubber band (Hooke's Law). They are good to use when you need a running start, especially when traction is poor - for example, if you’re pulling a vehicle out of sand, mud, loose gravel, or snow and ice. They are also good to use when the vehicle making the recovery doesn’t have enough power to tug from a standstill. Nylon has give built into it and is not braided but bundled to allow stretch without twist. Its resilience permits the pulling vehicle to obtain momentum to aid in the tug. Of course, this means "stored energy" and if it breaks, some risk. If and when the strap does break, it can damage vehicles or injure bystanders.

2. Never tow in reverse. This is less of a safety issue, and more of a "don't break your vehicle" consideration. Your 4WD transfer case is not as strong in reverse as it is in first, or second gear. If it is possible, turn your vehicle around and recover the stuck 4WD going forwards. Another weak link are your pinions and ring gears in the differentials - recall their design and how they are cut? They are designed for severe load conditions going forwards, not reverse, and because of that design are subject to slippage, breakage, and failure. Avoid becoming a casualty and contributing to the problem.

I know perfect recovery situations aren't always possible, but bear these weaknesses in mind and you won't be up for a new gearbox. Or worse, a candidate for a Darwin Award. :D
 
#9
Most Def. I appreciate it. Not the way I intend to use it going forward. Yesterday was a bit redneck. Where they were at, they'd end up paying A LOT to get them out. I need to get my recovery gear out of storage. That's it for good deeds though. ;)
 
#10
Exterior Mods:

On our first truck, I ran the BakFlip G2. I was pretty happy with it, so this time, I decided to go with the BakFlip HD tonneau cover.

Really happy with the quality of the product. Both top and bottom are aluminum with a UV resistant powder coat. Add on a 2yr warranty and made in America, and I'm a happy camper.



If you own a Ram then you probably noticed that the antenna is flappy and bounces all over the place. I hate the factory antenna. Since we are always traveling we don't ever listen to actual FM or AM radio. 100% of the time my iPod is plugged into the truck.

So I swapped out the antenna for a 7 inch model by AntennaX.

 
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#11
Spent the afternoon catching up on a few projects I was behind on. Mostly re-installing old hardware from our other truck into the new Power Wagon.

Becuase we travel and are on the go so much; I have a WeBoost Drive 4G-M cellular booster paired with a Surecall 9-inch external antenna. It works great, and there are plenty of places where 1X becomes 3G or 2 bars of 3G becomes full LTE.

For placement, I like the internal antenna on the dash just above the stereo.



This works with our phones best, as I have two Koomus K2 phone mounts.





I am not sure where I want to mount the booster itself. For now it's just in the lower center console.



I also spent some time wiring up our dash cam.





I'm running the Auto-vox B40-C dash cam. I've had this for over a year and half and it still works great. Shoots in 1080p, continuous and has a shock sensor that can lock your files to prevent over write in the event of an accident.
 
#13
Today we did the Top of the World Trail in Moab.

First, my proof:




My wife and I really enjoyed the holy s//t looks from the modified Jeeps at the top. We accomplished the trail without using the bypasses. This was one of the most technical trails we've done together in a stock vehicle. Overall I am really happy we did this.

It kind of gives me an idea for the Power Wagon moving forward, that should stay in line with my original intentions. But I think after today I want to push the "aggressive stock" category to it's limits.

PS: No scratches or dents by a miracle.
 
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NC_IslandRunner

Adventurist
Founding Member
#16
Nice rig Mike, I was just talking about you and your wife the other day when the wife was saying we should have had smores camping last weekend. We are gonna copy Jordanee and make chocolate cover bacon next time.

I have a friend that just closed his shop, his wife quit her job, they sold their house and moved to Utah for the hiking and wheeling.

Glad to both of you and the kids doing well!
 
#18
ARMOR - DIFFERENTIAL PROTECTION

I used Purple Cranium's half spider's on my Trailblazer build and they were good enough for most of the stuff I threw at them. After evaluating our needs with a lot of wheeling in Moab with no protection, I decided that the half spiders would be sufficient enough. I generally attempt to go over or around obstacles I could get my differential caught up on. But the occasional strike does happen.

FRONT


REAR
 
#20
TIRE UPGRADE

After lots of testing in Moab, new shoes for the Power Wagon. I had considered 37's and given that we tow often I decided that 35's would be a better fit for capability and retaining power and mpg while towing (somewhat). So today I had Toyo Open Country AT/II's in 35x12.50 R 17 installed on the truck.

Perfect fit with no rubbing! And these tires are quiter than the Goodyear Durtracs, also a plus.









:cheers:

Misc Additions

I also picked up this Hook strap from Pit_Slave today. I dig it.

 
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