2018 Ram Rebel Overland Build

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DVC

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Since picking up my Ram Rebel back in December 2017, I've been quietly pondering plans for mods. Since I've found others' build threads so interesting - as well as helpful in determining my own build road map - I thought I'd share my journey so far, and some plans that are currently in the works for the near future.

I think a good build plan starts with honestly assessing what the vehicle is capable of, then mapping out the current and future goals. Since my truck will wear many hats - comfortable daily driver, practical kid hauler, race car tow vehicle, weekend adventure rig - I've been prioritizing overlanding mods that enhance my truck's capabilities across the board - or at least don't sacrifice performance in areas other than overlanding (which I'm all too familiar with from turning my street car into a track machine).

So with that in mind, I've been researching over the winter, and have already started the mod process. I registered for the OK4wd 4xTour at AOAA in Eastern PA the last weekend of April, so my goal is to get the first few rounds of mods completed by then!


 
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DVC

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The Rebel is already pretty capable off road, with a 5.7l Hemi V8, 3.92 rear and LSD, 33" tires, and a BW 44-45 locking center diff, so the primary focus in terms of capability for me is tires. I upgraded the stock Toyo Open Country A/T tires with a set of 305/70-17 Nitto Ridge Grapplers. These tires come out to be a little more than an inch larger in diameter than the Toyos, as well as about 3/4" wider. They're also something of a hybrid between A/T and M/T tires, so they're very capable off road, but also pretty well-mannered on the road. Along with these tires, I upgraded to a set of Fuel Anza wheels - 17x 8.5" with a -6mm offset. The end result is about 1/2" more tire clearance on the inside, and the tires sticking out 1-1/2"+ which fills the fenders very nicely, without sticking out past the tops of the fenders. Pretty much a perfect fit (although I did order a set of 1/4" spacers for the rear, as I think the rears could come out a bit more to better match the profile of the fronts).

So far, on the road, these tires have been great. Their road manners are very similar to the OE Toyos, which is to say very low noise and decent dry grip for this type of tire. They haven't seen rain or snow yet, but according to reviews, they have great wet traction for such an aggressive tread, and snow traction is excellent (much better than the OE Toyos). I'll be interested to see how good they do on the trails at AOAA at the end of the month!

Here's the truck as it currently sits....









And here it was stock:

 

DVC

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After almost a week on the new wheels and tires, I am still very happy with them.

The tires are a bit stiffer than the OE Toyo ATs, but not enough to be objectionable. They're both 10-ply E-rated tires, but the Nittos have a reputation for a very robust sidewall, so it makes sense that they transmit a little more feel when rolling over choppy pavement.

I would have seriously considered a D-rated tire if there were any good options in this size.... But I think but the Nitto RG is really one of the only good options in 305/70-17 - which for a non-lifted Rebel really seems to be the sweet spot size-wise. And I was also mindful that I wanted to retain OE tire weight ratings for payload/towing capabilities.

My guess is that they'll soften up somewhat when the weather finally warms up...and possibly with more miles. Can't wait to try them out off-road in a few weeks!
 
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DVC

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Over the last couple weeks I've been progressing the build with a bunch of exterior mods - some quite minor, and some more involved.

One of the weak points of the truck I noticed right away was the lighting. Coming from vehicles with bright white HIDs, the old school yellowish halogens were not cutting it. Fortunately the LED fog lights are really effective at throwing light immediately in front of the truck, including off to the sides...without the fogs, the headlights would have been borderline unsafe.

So after a bunch of research, I settled on an HID upgrade kit from GTR. Most of the HID kits available are 35 watts, with a couple offering a 55w upgrade with the caveat that the bulbs will burn out much sooner. But GTR claims that their gen5 55w kit is not susceptible to the common premature failures of other 55w kits, so I figured I'd give them a try. I went with the 5000k color temperature kit, which is a good match with the LEDs, if a bit less "white."

I brought the truck to an electronics shop that I trust right down the road to do the install, and everything went very smoothly. This kit has very compact ballasts, and they were able to fit them inside the headlight enclosure so no need to drill a 1" hole in the back like other kits.

I am loving this kit so far...they are MUCH brighter, but based on the fact that other drivers have not been flashing me at night, I'm assuming they're not blinding to other drivers. (In my BMW with OE HIDs, I get flashed regularly.) The lights fire up instantly with no flicker, and reach full intensity almost immediately. This kit is on the more expensive side, but seems to be a great match for 4th generation Ram projector headlights.

I didn't take any before pics of the yellowish OE halogens... But here are a couple pics I took yesterday evening that show the color temp matching with the LED fog lights:
 

Tex68w

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The lighting on these Rams is abysmal at best. I plan to do an LED upgrade soon. Please report back in a month and let us know how these bulbs are holding up!
 
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DVC

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I'll certainly follow-up if there's any change in performance of this kit down the road.

From what I've gathered, LEDs don't match-up well to Ram projector headlights. They're not nearly as bright as HIDs, and many kits aren't able to produce a focused beam.
 

DVC

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Here's the next exterior mod...

RetraxPro MX tonneau:
I researched tonneau covers for a long time before finally pulling the trigger. It was down to Retrax and Truck Covers USA, as both are compatible with Ramboxes; both are retractable (and therefore can be used with a bed rack); and both are strong enough to be rated to support 500# of evenly distributed static weight on top of them. But there were a few factors that tipped me in favor of the Retrax... it's not spring-loaded, so it's lockable in any position; it retains full functionality of the sliding tie down rail, where with TC USA you lose these entirely; and the Retrax tracks only stick out about 1.5" from the bed walls, vs over 3" per side with the TC USA (this was important to me since Rambox beds loose some width to begin with).

Installation was fairly easy, with the exception of wrestling the heavy canister into the bed. No adjustments were necessary to get everything square; it was dead-on on the first try. (I think this is probably due to the nature of the Rambox installation.) The cover was extremely tight in the tracks for the first couple of days, but had smoothed out considerably since then. The quality seems to be fantastic so far; the seals fit perfectly on the sides, allowing the Ramboxes to open and close easily, but still sealing out the elements.
 
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DVC

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And some more exterior mods I've been wanting to do pretty much since I got the truck 4 months ago...

Amp Research Bed Step:
A simple mod that works great for climbing into the bed with the tailgate up or down... And now I'm not jealous of the Ford guys with the step/handle that pull out from their tailgates : )

Factor55 hitch link / ¾" D-ring shackle:




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Antenna Source 6-3/4" stubby antenna:
This little thing works just as well as the comically long OE silver whip antenna, but without the annoyance of getting swatted all over the place like a tether ball every time you brush past something.

 
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DVC

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Next up are some minor enhancements to the interior. Admittedly, these aren't particularly "overland" focused, but I thought I'd include them anyway.

Still in the works are a couple other interior mods, including.... a hard-wired dash cam (I installed one but it was terrible, so swapping it out for something else); and a Cobra 75 CB (just waiting to pick out an antenna and get the bed rack installed to set it all up).


Tuffy locking security lids for the in-floor storage bins. Lots of great storage in this truck... but the OE lids on these bins are so flimsy that it makes sense to replace them with something more secure.

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Lock'er Down console safe. I went with the combo lock - no key to fuss with, and the lid can be closed without being locked for times you want to have quick access.


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Hard-wired Valentine One:

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V1 Savvy with right-angle OBD-II port connector. Savvy allows you to set a speed under which the V1 will stay silent. Based on Ram's awkward placement of the OBD-II port, the low-profile right-angle adapter allows for an unobtrusive hidden install.
 
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Tex68w

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I had no idea that Tuffy made lockable hard lids for the rear in-floor storage pods. I am definitely going to have to get some of those!
 
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DVC

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I considered a couple other options, but I think Tuffy is the way to go.

You can spend a little less and get Mopar locks for the OE lids, but the lids are so flimsy I'm sure I could rip one open with one hand regardless of a lock.
Or you could spend (a LOT) more and go with the Lock'er Down solution, which is an entirely new steel bin and lid, which I thought was a bit of overkill. The Tuffy design has a lid that overlaps the mounting plate, and should keep someone from just trying to pry open the lid in a quick smash and grab. And if someone is really determined to get in there, they could just as easily remove the entire Lock'er Down box as they could get the Tuffy lid/mounting plate assembly apart from the floor of the truck.
 
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DVC

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Exactly...intended for sticky-fingered opportunists, like crooked valets and parking lot attendants, shady dealership staff, etc.
 
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