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Old 10-06-2022, 05:53 PM   #1
Jay
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Default 98 Dodge Ram

Hello!

I have a RoadTrek 190, 1998 Dodge 3500 RAM. The front springs, or shocks, or both, seem very bad. I've been told by a gas-station repair shop that I need new springs and shocks since the weight of the campervan has worn out the springs (they called a spring shop). It seems to me the spring-decline could also be usage of the wrong shocks for many years. I've had a tough time with mechanics not seeming to know what kinds of shocks to put on. I recently had new "great" shocks put on and it seemed better for about a week, then worse than ever. The latest shop says these new ones are passenger car shocks and not right for the RAM 3500.

Does anyone have an experience in this regard?

Thank you,
Jay
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Old 10-06-2022, 07:57 PM   #2
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I had a suspension shop rearchitect the rear springs and put on four new shocks. Bilsteins. Difference in handling was amazing. Great shocks. Iím sure part of it definitely was the springs. Feels very level when I turn, more like a car
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Old 10-07-2022, 07:08 AM   #3
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I'm using KYB Gas a Just on our P30 Chevy chassis. They really improve ride control and really smooth out the bumps. So far, about 25k miles and they are performing very well. If I had your Dodge, they would be doing on. My brother has Bilsteins on his '97 Dodge RT, they seem to ride pretty rough on the front.

Bonus, just above $200 for a set of 4 versus over $400 for Bilsteins.
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Old 10-13-2022, 08:41 PM   #4
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We have a 2000 RT 190V, bought it in 2018, it had a scary wollow, only about 28,000 miles on it, but perhaps the age killed the shocks, in any case we had new light truck shocks installed in PEI at a Canadian Tire, stars just aligned for service there as well as getting the parts.
About 10,000 miles later it still continues to be great, and handle as expected for a big Dodge van, which is safe, which it was not before the new shocks.
We run 55 lbs front and 80 or 85 in the rear tires, this also helps.
I look forward to hearing more about the springs. How many miles are on it?
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Old 10-13-2022, 08:46 PM   #5
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At around 60K miles the front shocks/springs on my '98 Xplorer 230XLW (Dodge B3500) were not getting the job done anymore, bottoming out on extra wavy highway sections and such. I have been using Monroe Gas Magnums on four prior Class B's and have found them to be more than adequate especially considering their cheap price. When I bought this Xplorer at 50K miles it was equipped with these shocks as well, but upon inspection I found that both were worn out so I bought another set. Some improvement, but not enough so I started to look for spring replacements, and man did I go down a rabbit hole.

Moog used to sell an OEM HD spring, pn# 7272, but could not find them in stock anywhere. Rock Auto and SD Truck Springs both sell a Dayton # 350-900 "Cargo Maxx HD" set for around $230 shipped to Texas. These springs have a slightly larger wire diameter and result in about an inch higher ride heigth than the OEM springs originally equpped on my chassis. But to make a long story a bit shorter I ended up buying a custom wound set from Coil Spring Specialties. These guys really know their stuff,and supposedly look at 14 different spring parameters of the OEM's, and per their suggestions designed a set that offered 15% increased spring rate and stock ride height. I paid $320 shipped for these springs, and they have virtually completely eliminated bottoming out without adding measurable ride harshness, however the almost new Monroe Gas Magnums couldn't keep up with the additional spring rate, causing some pogo-ing. I then replaced them with Bilstein's HD shocks, and man did that do the trick; just perfect now in fact.

Two caveats though: It took about 5000 miles for these springs to settle out to about 1/2" more than factory ride height which again is just about perfect for me as I just need to run with 10-15psi more in my rear airbags than before to level out the suspension. Additionally, the increased wire diameter of these springs cause them to occasionaly rub against the upper spring cups, causing a pretty annoying squeak at slow speeds over rough terrain, that comes and goes, but only around 10% of time in those conditions.
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Old 10-27-2022, 01:37 AM   #6
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I rebuilt the front & rear suspension in my '97 Dodge based Leisure Travel. These vans are generally under-sprung when they leave the coach builder since they are always at near max weight. The last upgrade I did suspension-wise was install AC Delco Professional (same as Moog Severe Duty) front springs. Awesome improvement (at ~129K mi). Already had installed Bilsteins, all new bushings, joints, etc..., rebuilt the rear leaf spring packs (but did not re-arch due to shipping expense - I would have if there was a shop nearby that could do it), installed 900# adjustable rear helper springs, and added 1" lift spacers under my Firestone Airbags. I choose not to buy after market leaf springs since they are typically 2 or 3 fewer leafs in the pack and are not flattened at the tips which I concluded would make for a harsher ride. Custom packs could be made to duplicate the originals, but at much greater expense.
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Old 10-27-2022, 02:59 PM   #7
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98LeisureTravelDodge I have considered getting my rear springs re-arched as well but have the same problem you had. Putting spacers under the airbags is great idea that I might try as well. Can you please tell me where you found your adjustable helper leafs? My right rears have sagged a bit more than my left, which is kinda weird because I am definitely carrying more weight on the left side (genny, black and grey tanks) and I compensate that by running 5-10 PSI more in the right hand bag. This becomes a bit of a problem when fully loaded for an extended trip and bringing along my Honda XR-250R (230 lbs. plus the 50 lb. or so hitch carrier for it), as I'm redlining the right airbag at 100 PSI.
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Old 10-27-2022, 05:14 PM   #8
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I found my helper leafs on eBay. They were a closeout. Someone bought up the rest (4 or 5 pairs). They were made for an Australian firm called Dynamic Suspensions. I think they went out of business. I doubt you will find these. I highly recommend anything by Helwig or SuperSprings. I also considered installing full length, 2500# rated Helwig helpers (and I still may). There are a few options available. It depends on your budget, luck finding a deal, and your preferences/goal. Something along the line of these: https://www.ebay.com/itm/115305325254 might be a good start. I don't recall if these particular helpers are listed by Helwig as fitting Dodge B-Vans, but I saved them in my eBay Dodge suspension list. Helwig definately has this style available for Dodge.

The 1" lift for the Firestone air bags I bought on Amazon, but they' were available on eBay too.

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Old 10-27-2022, 06:26 PM   #9
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nicaland, having read your question again and looking at pics of your rig plus bike, I can see that you will be wanting the more heavy duty helpers. My yellow leafs are rated at 900# and I have them adjusted to the stiffest (3rd hole) setting (set to middle setting in pics). They are "progressive" in that the leaf is tapered, but the taper is over a relatively short distance so I think it's a little bit gimmick and little bit "progressive".

I would recommend a full length helper in your case. I think Helwig has a single leaf, full length rated at 1100#. Or you might go with a 2,3 or possibly 4 leaf helper. The 3 leaf is rated at 2500# which should be plenty. They are adjustable and legitimately progressive. You can torque down the rear half and in theory that puts more weight on your front tires (something our Dodge RVs need desperately).

What year chassis is your Dodge? '98 or '97?
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Old 10-27-2022, 06:44 PM   #10
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FYI for anyone with a 1997 Dodge B-Van Chassis. Re Moog Front coil springs. Rock Auto, Moog and everywhere else I've looked show that the Moog 7226S Severe Duty springs fit up to 1996 B3500. I don't know whether it was something Dodge changed spec-wise or something Moog neglected to update, but the 7226S fits my 1997 B3500 chassis just fine as I expected they would and they are awesome! (actually I bought AC Delco Pro springs, but I'm sure they are Moog).
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Old 10-27-2022, 07:10 PM   #11
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Thanks so much for all of this info. It's a '98, and the pic I posted shows my previous XL-125S; my current 250 weighs even a bit more! Do I understand correctly that the single and up to four leaf Helwigs are all progessive and adjustable? I might be wrong here, but thinking that an adjustable full length set as opposed to a helper design would be better for me anyway in regards to lifting my right side a bit regardles of vehicle load? And finally as far as how much extra load capacity goes, I'm thinking I should probably stay with a one or two leaf design in order to be able still be able to level my rig when stationary over a wide range of terrain slopes by adjusting airbag pressure in order to keep my 3-way fridge alive and well. Watcha think?
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Old 10-27-2022, 07:45 PM   #12
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nicaland asked: "Do I understand correctly that the single and up to four leaf Helwigs are all progessive and adjustable?" Yes "I might be wrong here, but thinking that an adjustable full length set as opposed to a helper design would be better for me anyway in regards to lifting my right side a bit regardles of vehicle load? "The full length are still considered helper springs, but yes, I agree.

You may have to get creative a little and customize your setup. The 2.5" wide, 3-leaf set I pictured (which you can get cheap on eBay as they are closeout - different finish) could be used, but you could remove the bottom spring. I don't see any single or 2 leaf helpers listed for your van at Helwig.com. I am not familiar with the dually setup on your rig. Is it a Chrysler Corporate 9.25" rear axle, or is it a Dana rear axle? I see on the Helwig site that they list 2.5" rear leafs or 3" rear leafs. I wouldn't be surprised if you have 3"???
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Old 10-27-2022, 08:06 PM   #13
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nicaland, This is how the Helwig 3 and 4 leaf helper springs fit on your leaf spring pack.Helwig 3-Leaf Progressive, Adjustable Helper Springs.jpg
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Old 10-27-2022, 08:14 PM   #14
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I'm pretty sure that this is a stock Chrysler axle. Xplorer chose Arrowcraft Products for the dually mod. In'98 (maybe other years as well) Dodge built one ton chassis with 3.90 or 4.10 limited slip diffs, and mine unfortunately is the 3.90. Really would have prefered the 4.10 as on the highway even fairly minor uphill grades forces the tranny to kick out of overdrive. I just checked my springs and they are 2.5".
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Old 10-27-2022, 09:50 PM   #15
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So I have been looking at Helwig options and think I'm going to go with their PN# 1801 EZ-990 HELPER SPRING KIT - STEP BRACKET STYLE LEAF 2.5" pending confirmation from them that it will fit. This spring doesn't require the mounting kit required for the 9510 LP-25 set that you pictured, as thus is close to half the price, and when fully cranked down offers up to 2000lb. capacity, which I recon will be sufficient.
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Old 10-27-2022, 09:59 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nicaland View Post
So I have been looking at Helwig options and think I'm going to go with their PN# 1801 EZ-990 HELPER SPRING KIT - STEP BRACKET STYLE LEAF 2.5" pending confirmation from them that it will fit. This spring doesn't require the mounting kit required for the 9510 LP-25 set that you pictured, as thus is close to half the price, and when fully cranked down offers up to 2000lb. capacity, which I recon will be sufficient.

Is that 2000# per spring or per axle with the helpers on. Big difference and always good to confirm as I have seen helpers, bags, bump stop springs, etc rated both ways over the years.
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Old 10-27-2022, 10:24 PM   #17
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Per axle, and Helwig confirms that this PN will fit my '98 B3500 chassis.
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Old 10-27-2022, 10:48 PM   #18
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The Dana axles (my manual calls it a 248 RBI axle which I believe is a Dana 60) were offered on pretty much all the older B & D, 2WD vans & trucks. They are a "full floating" axle as opposed to the Chrysler Corp 9.25" which is "semi-floating". Full floating is more heavy duty and can carry higher weights.

That's cool that you have a limited slip diff. I got a deal on a new Trac-Lok diff, but I haven't got around to installing it. With a little extra ground clearance and a winch or come-along & tow-strap, it should make for some adventurous boon docking.

Regarding your preferred choice helper spring this is where you may have to get creative and maybe gamble a little. If the helwig rep will spend a little time with you you might be able to determine that your choice should fit, but it is not shown to fit in their application list. I find thier web site a little clunky, but if you dig a little the info is there. Also, if you look for something that fits a B1500 or B2500, it may work for you, but as always do your homework first and buyer beware if you go off script.
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Old 10-28-2022, 06:47 PM   #19
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I'm going to dig a bit to see if I can find out what axle I have. Yea, Helwig's website is definitely clunky, and their model numbers are very confusing. I ended up talking to Kevin there three times, and he was pretty confusing as well! Basically, when I told him that I thought I could get by with a lighter load rating than the 3 leaf 2500lb design, he suggested the 1801. So I looked it up, checked out the application list, found what you did, and although I felt that if it fit a B300 it should also fit my B3500, I called him back. He looked it up on his data sheet, and low and behold his stated it would fit from, can't remember the oldest year exactly, but something like mid 80's up to 2003. I strongly suggested that they update their webpage data.
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Old 10-28-2022, 06:58 PM   #20
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Just checked my VIN and it is equipped with the 9.25 corporate rear axle.
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