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The newest project vehicle selected for the Diesel Army is a 2008 Dodge Ram 2500 equipped with the 68RFE six-speed automatic transmission, is four-wheel drive, and powered by a 6.7-liter Cummins turbo-diesel. The truck is outfitted with a Mega Cab with a standard length bed, and was built to the SLT trim level.
Because desert racing is so accessible to those in the Southwest region, we have several guys in-house that participate in these events on a regular basis. Any off-road team understands the value of a solid chase vehicle to locate a downed vehicle, repair it on the fly, or recover it if necessary. While not needed, they can really make those recreational weekends safer and more fun by providing support to the vehicles and riders should they need some help. With that in mind, we have dubbed our Dodge truck Project: Diesel Chase.
6/30/2016 – Rigid Bumper Lights
6/9/2016 – Edge CTS2 Tuner
4/26/2016 – Bumpers With Throttle Down Kustoms
12/3/2015 – Wilco Offroad Chase Rack
12/12/2014 – Toyo Open County Tire Review
The Big Plan
While our Dodge has performed better than expected throughout its life, we know that there are plenty of improvements that can be made to enhance its ability to perform off-road, as a chase vehicle, and as a tow vehicle.
Almost everyone loves the thought of increasing the horsepower and torque of their vehicle, but we have to take a few things into account. Considering the towing duties that our vehicle has planned, reliability and longevity is paramount to our aftermarket plans. Accordingly, this build is going to remain fairly mild with regards to performance enhancements. That being said, we have several other avenues for improvement.
In terms of performance, we would like to see what we can achieve electronically with the help of a tuner that can help to remove the “factory fluff.” Additionally, some intake and exhaust options will most certainly be an area of interest to provide more power, and a more efficient, cooler running engine for those heavy tows. We also would like to add the ability to monitor the health and operating temperatures of the engine more carefully with a few added gauges.
One of the most important things you can do for a diesel is to provide an extremely clean and consistent delivery of fuel. There are many products on the market out there, so we will dive into these and see which option will perform best for our application.
Another area of interest for the vehicle falls into the realm of off-road. We would like to equip our truck with the appropriate suspension, tires, and wheels to handle the harsh desert environments, but without sacrificing the usability and functionality of a diesel truck needed for towing. Upgrading the tires is a very simple, yet highly effective way to improve the off-highway abilities of a vehicle. Additionally, we want to look at what aftermarket wheels would be best suited for this application, as well as a good way to add some style points. Another area to focus on here is the addition of one or two full-size spares as flat tires are inevitable when going off the beaten path, and when you need to get out and get back home, a stock spare simply won’t suffice.
Moving up, we would like to outfit the truck with some off-road capable suspension products that will provide increased ground clearance, the ability to run a much larger tire, and some improved handling characteristics. Since we have to maintain the ability to tow, the rear suspension has to stay fairly firm with the ability to both tow and haul heavy loads. This can certainly be improved with the addition of load-leveling air bags in the rear, and a new pair of shocks should help to dampen the bumps. We have a little more freedom up front with regards to suspension design, however we need to remain somewhat mild here in order to maintain the highway drivability.
We know the Mega Cab has a lot of space, and when that space is occupied by a handful of passengers gear storage can become a little tricky. In an effort to improve this, we will add what’s known as a chase rack, which gives additional storage, places to fasten down items up out of the way, and even provide platform for auxiliary lighting and other accessories.
Anybody who has spent some time in the outdoors, be it desert or woodland, knowns how dark the nights can be. In an effort to maximize nighttime driving visibility, area lighting for repairs and recoveries, and the vehicle’s visibility to others, the truck will be outfitted with some serious lighting.
The final addition to Project Diesel Chase will be the tools that allow its driver and passenger to perform the repairs and recoveries that it set out do to. These items can include everything from recovery straps, winches, and appropriate bumpers to handle the rigors of removing stuck vehicles, to onboard air systems, jacks, shovels, common parts and appropriate tools to repair the vehicles being supported.
While we aren’t setting out to build a 100 percent dedicated desert chase truck, we believe our hybrid truck will prove to be surprisingly useful in everything from chase support, off-road fun and exploration, to a weekend tow and support vehicle. We are looking forward to building this vehicle and hope that it brings awareness and valuable information to our readers moving forward.
So drop in and check out what’s new with Project Diesel Chase!