With the suspension lifted 4 inches, but still in stock form, there were definitely visible travel limitations, and though the tires could stuff completely into the fenderwells with no rubbing, the downtravel was just not there. We were still getting about 8-9 inches of front wheel travel, which was good for a factory-style solid-axle front suspension, but we wanted more. More! Out came the cutting torch and off went the stock suspension. Hopefully we will be able to get the driveshaft to adhere to the new front-end droop when everything is said and done.With the suspension lifted 4 inches, but still in stock form, there were definitely visibl Like many of you, some of us at 4-Wheel & Off-Road have more than one 4x4 at home. So when we thought up this story, we set out with a mission to show an easily buildable prerunner suspension that you could drive on every day, go out and shoot through the desert in, carry toys with, and cruise comfortably across the state in. In other words, build ourselves a work truck (our definition of work truck might be different than yours). Instead, we got a lesson in reality. And though this truck has earned its name, it's not really the truck's fault. We tend to be a bit abusive to it, and three engines, seven trannies, and four rear axles later, this truck was in need of some new suspension (for the third time). But do not feel bad for our 86,000-mile Dodge. It has been loved dearly and will be rebuilt again and again, no matter how badly we break it. The parameters we wanted to go by were going to make this suspension buildup a bit more difficult than a purpose-built truck. Plus, for reader duplication purposes we wanted to use nothing more than the average fabricating tools any semi-skilled welder has. Keeping our Dodge in a multi-use configuration turned into much more of a hassle than originally intended and we started to wish that we had just left that bolt-on lift kit alone. But when all is said and done, life will be sweet, and so will this truck. This month we'll cover the concerns we had and the first part of the suspension buildup. Next month, we'll cover the installation of the front coilovers, the airbumps, an antisway bar, and a new track bar to coincide with the crossover steering. After trying to build part of it in our garage while having enough room for decent pictures, we decided to go down to a welding shop we knew well, only a few miles away. We had already added 10-leaf National Spring spring packs weeks before to get them to stretch and settle a little bit under load. Hank Van Gaale and Chris Bishop of Imperial Muffler & Welding were helping us weld and fabricate at our house, and the shop was closed for the weekend, so we called owner Don Akman to get the OK to pull some late-nighters through the weekend. Once at the shop, we started in the rear because it was the easier end to do and we were working against the clock, since the shop would re-open Monday morning. We started by removing the front half of the original rear crossmember. We did this to make room for the addition of 21/2x1/4-inch square tubing as a rear upper shock mount. Van Gaale and Bishop cut and ground bridges to weld the new crossmember to the remaining part or the original one.After trying to build part of it in our garage while having enough room for decent picture Either Bishop or Van Gaale custom cut and smoothed to shape every mounting tab we used. This takes a considerable amount of time since they have to be cut with a plasma torch and ground smooth from 1/4-inch plate. Remember, we said we were only using tools that a guy with a welder would have at home. This means only drills, grinders, torches, welders, and miter saws to do the entire job...except, of course, for the forklift (See following Image).Either Bishop or Van Gaale custom cut and smoothed to shape every mounting tab we used. Th Van Gaale welded 1/4-inch mounting plates to the ends of the new crossmember and bolted them into place using four 1/2-inch bolts on each framerail. Dodges have been rumored to crack around this area, so we made the plates extra beefy to reinforce the frame.Van Gaale welded 1/4-inch mounting plates to the ends of the new crossmember and bolted th With the shock tabs fully welded in place, we used a forklift to unload the rear suspension and place the shocks. Have you ever tried to compress a fully charged nitrogen shock with 200 psi in it at a funky angle? Bishop is a big guy, but even he couldn't push the shafts up far enough to attach the bolts. All Fox shocks use 1/2-inch hardware, so we had loaded up on 1/2-inch Grade 8 bolts to use on the rest of the suspension. All our joints, mounting points, and shocks use either 1/2-inch or 9/16-inch bolts, so we will only have to carry two sizes of spares to have replacements for every bolt in the suspension. Easy.With the shock tabs fully welded in place, we used a forklift to unload the rear suspensio To mount the reservoirs, we used weld-on reservoir mounts. Van Gaale bent a piece of 11/2-inch round tubing to make a hoop to attach the reservoirs to and also help tie together the new and old crossmembers. The finished product sat with approximately 6 inches of uptravel and 10-11 inches of downtravel. We were hoping for more uptravel and will be adding a 11/2-inch block in the future, basically because we bought shocks that were too long and we do not want to go through the bed. This will also help bring the rear up to the height of the front for a more level stance. We like a prerunner look, but right now it's a little ridiculous.To mount the reservoirs, we used weld-on reservoir mounts. Van Gaale bent a piece of 11/2- Up front we definitely wanted longer-than-factory control arms to locate our axle. This way the axle would not move back as much as the suspension drooped. But we could not decide what type of joint to use on the end. Also, it takes a fair amount of patience and time to find the correct way to mount the arms to take the axle through the correct arc as it travels. If you goof this up, you can get squatting or jacking, too much angle on the pinion, or just plain bad, incongruently mounted arms that like to bind. We decided to call Extreme Suspensions, the current producers of Dick Cepek Suspensions. We remembered that Cepek had offered a 6-inch suspension kit for Dodges that gave relocation brackets to mount control arms at the center of the frame. It also came with 48-inch-long control arms, more than enough for the travel we needed. In the picture you can see the size of them compared to the factory control arm (above the four long arms). By using the control arm kit we would not only have the correct geometry in the front end, but also have polyurethane bushings which is all this truck really needs. It will not see any hard-core rock duty and it isn't a racing truck, so it does not need extreme articulation or top-dollar parts. The bushings will not transmit vibrations through the body like rigid spherical bearing rod ends would. Best of all, it was bolt-on.Up front we definitely wanted longer-than-factory control arms to locate our axle. This wa Well, not completely bolt-on. Not for us, at least. The control arm frame bracket connects at a point where the front boxing on the frame stops and the rest is C-section. This made for a nasty 1/8-inch lip that would necessitate using washers to even out the spacing, but instead, we used 1/8-inch steel plate to make a flat mounting point for the bracket. We drilled the holes and bolted on the brackets using 1/2-inch hardware.Well, not completely bolt-on. Not for us, at least. The control arm frame bracket connects With the Cepek brackets mounted it was time to get some clearance for the control arms to travel up. The major problem we ran into is the body-mounting bracket off the frame. This got in the way of the upper control arm and is the reason why no one but Dick Cepek has come out with a complete long arm kit for the '94-'01 Dodges. Luckily, Dick Cepek found a way around that by supplying reinforcements that are supposed to bolt into the body-mount bracket after it has a 3-inch circular hole cut in it for arm clearance. Both Van Gaale and Bishop each decided to use their own method of removal (See following image as well).With the Cepek brackets mounted it was time to get some clearance for the control arms to Instead of bolting it in using the Grade 8 bolt holes on the reinforcement brackets like we were supposed to, we again broke out the welder and MIG-welded them in after Van Gaale and Bishop were done removing the parts of the brackets that had to be removed (See following image as well).Instead of bolting it in using the Grade 8 bolt holes on the reinforcement brackets like w The brackets were on and the body mounts were cut. It was time to remove the original control arms and cut the factory mounting locations off the frame. When we tried to remove the lower passenger-side control arm we found that the bolt had rusted itself on. The only thing to do: torch it out and continue on. It's always a bit scary to see pieces of your frame torched off. Now there is no going back. The frame was smoothed and painted over to protect it.The brackets were on and the body mounts were cut. It was time to remove the original cont The new Cepek extended control arms bolted right into place with ease. They allow the axle to droop fully the way we want, but they do inhibit upper travel when the control arms get close to the body mount. We will need to have the airbumps max out 3 inches below the factory bumpstop design. Though this did not make us happy, it was deemed acceptable considering we're gaining another 6 inches of travel. Next month we will finish up the suspension. Front hoops, coilovers, a track bar, an antisway bar, and airbumps all the way around are slated for the second half of Project Jinxy.The new Cepek extended control arms bolted right into place with ease. They allow the axle SOURCES Dick Cepek Suspensions www.extremesuspensions.com Imperial Muffler & Welding Fox Racing Shox www.foxracingshox.com Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!