We’re starting to ramp up design and development again on the 2nd Gen platform, and we have released a few new products over the last year.
The Dodge Ram OEM Trackbar design on the 2nd Gen platform is terrible. The Track Bar’s function of holding the axle center in the chassis makes it a very high-load component.
Too high of a load in our opinion to use a single-shear Steering Tie Rod End design for the frame side trackbar joint, which is what Dodge did, and then to design it off-plane so the loads are not perpendicular? It’s just a huge ball-drop.. It’s really bad.
The Thuren Fabrication 1994-2002 Dodge Ram Front Track Bar Kit fixes all of that, and has been a big hit! We’re selling about 30 of these a month and feedback has been terrific. We’re not one to regularly do comparisons to other brands, but to say it nicely, we’re very confident that our Track Bar kit will be a massive improvement in your steering quality, even if you already have another brand aftermarket Track Bar system or conversion bracket in place.
Our Rear Leaf spring conversion kit is a downright game changer. It is not inexpensive or easy to install, but if you plan on keeping your 2nd Gen for a long time, and plan to use it Off-Road especially, it’s a worthwhile investment. Even if you don’t use the truck off road, the street ride and handling quality is improved a ton.
Off road, this design was the only way we could get the desired outcome regarding performance and travel, as the OEM 2nd Gen rear suspension geometry and design is just terrible.
The leaf springs are very short so they resist being flexible, and they are mounted up very high on the frame so Dodge had to use a 4” tall spacer-block to get the axle down to the proper location, the U-Bolts are mounted threads-down hanging very low, etc.
Obviously this was just an old design and maybe they were”adapting” the 2x4 frame rear section to the 4x4 height. Fine for getting the truck down the road, while riding like a brick, but virtually impossible to engineer performance suspension from, virtually.
This is why we had to make such an extensive kit to solve all these issues! Even with the best leaf spring engineering we could come up with, if we wanted to make leafs to easily bolt into the OEM mounting, a dirty absolute maximum 10” of travel is all you could get out of those theoretical leaf springs.
Being that our complete Long Travel Conversion kit discussed here was designed around using our 2003-2013 Long-Travel extended rear leafs, this kit provides a soft riding bolt-in very efficient 13.5” wheel travel with 12” stroke shocks, and if you wanted to build a higher performance truck by fabricating a bed cage, you could cycle 18” travel out of our leaf springs provided.
6-22-22 - We’re about to release a front bumper. It’s the most complex bumper we’ve done to date. We didn’t really plan on making a 2nd gen bumper, but when Casey here started fitting up an existing 2003+ center section to his 2nd Gen beast, and it was close, the project snowballed!
I often joke “ we’re not a bumper company we’re a suspension company”, but sometimes I can’t resist letting the guys go on a new design if it’s going to be a game-changer. This bumper will be just that. A Game-Changer.
Dave here designed a lower cradle that will be a massive help to strengthening the weak 2nd Gen front frame section. The OEM frame bumper mounts are virtually Swiss-Cheese that you need to mount the bumper to, and that does not work well when trying to protect an 8000lb truck. Our lower cradle cups the lower portion of the frame-front, and goes all the way back to the swaybar pivot mounts, really making the area stronger.
So strong we felt like putting a winch mount bolt pattern in the bottom plate of this cradle, but you will have to chop out a part of your frame crossmember to fit the winch. Our plan is to supply a weld-in new crossmember that will bolt to the bumper cradle winch area to make it even stronger, to give you that room needed for the winch, if you do want to fit in a tucked up tight winch assembly.
This bumper will be 4 pieces. Lower cradle, center upper section, and the outer wings. We’re thinking of selling this bumper as options so you can get just the lower cradle if you want to use as the base for your own bumper build, and/or maybe a lower and upper center only kit so you can build your own wings, etc.. We’ll see how that goes…
Since we’re putting this effort into really making the 2nd Gens boogie off road, an axle truss kit was mandatory. This is now available in the products drop-down. Same design similar to our past offerings, which is as strong as anything else out there, while still being on the easy side to install, for being a weld in truss kit.
What Is A Track Bar And Why Is It Important?
The Track Bar is the only supporting component for your steering assembly. It plays a major role, and without it you wouldn’t make it out of your driveway. As you steer left the track bar is compressed and vice versa steer to the right and the track bar is stretched. With loose track bar components, terrible steering quality and even more extreme Death Wobble is possible. A rigid track bar design is the mechanical remedy taking into consideration other components that might be a contributing factor. When you replace the flimsy stock unit with a Thuren Fabrication Track Bar, the input you apply to the steering wheel will directly translate to the wheels.
Myth: Solid Track Bar Joints Will Make the suspension feel Rough.
As we addressed above, the track bar needs to be solid in design to truly translate input into reaction at the wheels. Vibration absorbing bushings are required for control arms and various components but when it comes to steering components it should be as tight a setup as possible and in this regard, the track bar could arguably be defined as a steering component. Its flexion or rigidity directly affects the performance of the steering assembly. The less flex in the Track Bar assembly, the better your steering quality will be.
Centering The Front Axle After A 2-3" Lift
The idea of centering your axle is just that...an idea. In reality, a perfectly centered front axle with an approximate 3” lift is a pipe dream. To bridge the gap, our Trackbar has been through hours of real-world research and development to achieve as close to perfect as possible.
To achieve closer to center front axle position, our track bar would need to be longer. Metal to metal contact with attaching components and hardware as the suspension is bottomed out will be a result. This is an undesired and unfavorable result therefore the TF Trackbar length is set to achieve maximum performance.
We do not recommend modifying the lift kit you have ordered but we also understand that some might choose to do so. If this is the case we do have some recommendations to retain fit, form, and most importantly function.
We do not recommend a larger than 4-inch lift with our 1994-2002 trackbar, as over that height you need a Drop Pitman Arm AND Trackbar Drop Bracket, and our bracket is not a drop-bracket.