Blocks or Leaf Springs?
Hi, I currently own a 2006 Dodge Power Wagon and have been toying with the idea of buying a lift for a while. On several online 4x4 forums the general chatter seems to be that using blocks to the lift the rear end can cause potential problems and even be dangerous. I've noticed in several of your builds that you use pretty tall blocks in place of custom leaf springs so I'm assuming they can't be all bad. I was just wondering what the advantages are using new leaf springs over blocks (if any) and if it's worth me shelling out an extra $800 or so for them? Thanks for the help and keep up the good work.
Beryl, those are some great questions! We have used blocks in the past, but I must say that leaf springs are almost always preferred. Blocks are a cheap way to lift something, or a way to "fix" or bandage a suspension that is not quite at the right height. We used 5.5-inch blocks on the fullsize Cherokee because our rear custom leaf springs were not quite tall enough to meet up with the front leaf springs' height. Once we get around to it, we will probably take our custom leaf springs to get reworked and modified for the correct height so we can ditch the blocks. You are correct in thinking that blocks will allow the leaf springs to wrap, as it puts a larger leverage arm on the leaf spring. We compensated for the axle wrap on the springs by putting traction bars on (but again, that's a bandage as well).
You're lucky because you're a Dodge Powerwagon owner and both Deaver (www.deaverspring.com) and National Spring (www.nationalsprings.com) have something called a "mini pack" available for your truck. The mini pack replaces your overload leaf, gives you a little bit of lift, and greatly improves the ride of your truck. I'd suggest going that route.
Do rock-crawlers use lead shot in their tires for balance? How often do you see rock-crawlers with that?
Brian, I haven't seen the lead shot in the tires trick for some time. It is done to keep a lot of weight very low in an effort to keep the rock-crawler from tipping over. Now, obviously this can be a double-edged sword if a rock-crawler gets his tires up high enough for the extra weight to tip him over. More often than lead shot, 'crawlers use water in their tires. A lot of guys seem to be getting away from that though (it does add a lot of unsprung weight) and instead find other ways to better balance their weight.
This issue's Letter of the Month author is going to get this cool Baja Bin aluminum reinforcement cage for the 8-gallon Action Packers, from SwagOffroad.com. The Baja Bin not only strengthens the box itself, it also has a hinged lid that makes sure the Action Packer doesn't fly open. On top of that, it has multiple tie-down points so it can be secured and have things secured on top of it when available space is a problem. Check them out at www.swagoffroad.com
Thanks for the Anchor!
Hi Jerrod, my name is Shane. I was in Gorman about a year ago in a green '71 GMC short bed truck. Your front end broke and I helped get you out by anchoring myself. I was wondering if you still have those pictures? I would love if you had time to email me them if you do. Did they make a magazine? That would be awesome! Thanks
North Hills, CA
Shane, it's been a while! Thanks again for the extra anchor. When that driveshaft snapped on the company Super Duty and the winch kept dragging my friend's Tahoe 4x4, I didn't know what we were going to do until you came along and hooked up to the Tahoe to give a big enough anchor. Unfortunately, I was so concerned with getting the truck out of that mudpit, I didn't snap a single picture of the happenstance. But, we did get a good picture of your truck that day. Check it out!
And since you saved my butt out there, the least I can do is make yours our Letter of the Month, so you'll be receiving the Baja Bin for an 8-gallon Action Packer. The Baja Bin is of the highest quality, and is a nice little bling piece to add to your off-road storage plans.
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Unloaded, OFF-ROAD Magazine,
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Remember, we're giving away swag every month to the author of our favorite letter. Be sure to include your address, so we know where to send your goods. And because we lost our copyeditor, please know that we are not going to be copyediting your letter if you are going to be hating on us, so you better check it over well before sending it our way! Thanks!