Editor's Note: Staff Sergeant Jeff Bade is currently serving with the Air Force in Iraq right now in sweltering heat. He got this story to us just before he left the states and showed that his talents include not only defending our country but also writing and photographing, as well.
Over the course of about 8 months and close to a total of $6,500, I was able to complete most of the work at home by myself with a little help from my dad, and with just hand tools. Now, I am the proud owner of a modified 2004 2WD Dodge Ram 1500 that began stock and now is closer to what I have wanted to have for years. With the increased performance, the new suspension, the addition of a few lights, some upgraded brake lines, new wheels and tires, I am ready to hit the dirt and test it all out.
Now that I had the truck's engine performance turned up, it was time to turn my attention to the off-road performance. This was achieved by going to CST Suspension (part# CSK-D23-1) and getting one of their 7-inch lifts that comes with 3-inch-taller spindles combined with coil springs that give four inches of lift and larger shocks for the front and for the rear it got 3-inch tall blocks and again, larger shocks. I had to replace the hub assemblies in front due to the fact that they were both worn out-something noticed when the truck was pulled apart. Now considering I had never done a lift before, it wasn't all that hard to complete this CST suspension. The only real problem I had was snapping a lower shock mount bolt on the front. I was able to finish the entire lift in about three days time and that was using just hand tools and doing it all in my small one-car driveway.
The first step was to not only increase the performance of the truck but to also get perhaps a mile or two more per gallon. This was achieved by installing a Brute Force cold air intake from AEM (part# 21-8205DC) and a throttle body spacer from Poweraid (part# 300-573). Both were easily mounted up under an hour, with the removal of the factory air intake. Yes, AEM has throttle body spacers and Poweraid (Airaid) has air intakes, but this was the combination I chose.
The CST lift spindle (right) drops the height of the spindle 3 inches.
Since the hub assemblies were well worn, I took the opportunity to replace them with new o
New extended stainless braided brake lines were also ordered from SDHQ to accomodate the e
Once the coil is installed, the new CST spindle bolts up directly in place of the factory
Finished front with the shocks installed
The rear kit consisted of a 3-inch block....
......(prerunner leaf packs are optional) and nitrogen-charged CST shocks.