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    1. #1
      Join Date
      Nov 2018
      Posts
      347
      Country Flag: United States

      Need suspension advice

      Hi guys - I am in the planning stages for a new project and have hit a stumbling block. The subject is a 2003 Dodge Dakota ext cab 2WD. Other plans that will impact what goes back there is I plan to have a drivetrain that will put about 700HP to the ground, perhaps more.

      My goal here is to have a truck that will handle occasional drag strip and pro-touring style track duty. I plan to lower the front by 2 inches and the rear enough to level. This will be a static drop. Where I'm running into a problem is I also need a smooth ride when cruising. My wife was in an auto accident a few years back, and can't handle a rough ride like one finds in a high performance vehicle. Normally I'd toss in a 4 link and call it a day, but the need for the butter smooth ride is throwing me for a loop. I don't want to do airbags. I've not even thought about what to do on the front since I've been concentrating on ditching the leaf springs but the front will also need to be addressed. The truck has a rack and pinion setup for steering which will be remaining. I've not yet decided if I am going to convert to an electric rack or leave it hydraulic, it's going to depend on whether or not I can come up with a way around the need for a CAN network.



      I'll add on that I am willing to give up a little on cutting edge performance for ride comfort. I wish it didn't have to be that way, but it is.

      So anyway, based on what I've posted, any recommendations for a suspension? I have another project I have to finish before I start on the truck, so I have plenty of time here. Thanks in advance.


    2. #2
      Join Date
      Mar 2018
      Location
      la mesa, CA
      Posts
      225
      Quote Originally Posted by Vimes View Post
      Hi guys - I am in the planning stages for a new project and have hit a stumbling block. The subject is a 2003 Dodge Dakota ext cab 2WD. Other plans that will impact what goes back there is I plan to have a drivetrain that will put about 700HP to the ground, perhaps more.

      My goal here is to have a truck that will handle occasional drag strip and pro-touring style track duty. I plan to lower the front by 2 inches and the rear enough to level. This will be a static drop. Where I'm running into a problem is I also need a smooth ride when cruising. My wife was in an auto accident a few years back, and can't handle a rough ride like one finds in a high performance vehicle. Normally I'd toss in a 4 link and call it a day, but the need for the butter smooth ride is throwing me for a loop. I don't want to do airbags. I've not even thought about what to do on the front since I've been concentrating on ditching the leaf springs but the front will also need to be addressed. The truck has a rack and pinion setup for steering which will be remaining. I've not yet decided if I am going to convert to an electric rack or leave it hydraulic, it's going to depend on whether or not I can come up with a way around the need for a CAN network.

      I'll add on that I am willing to give up a little on cutting edge performance for ride comfort. I wish it didn't have to be that way, but it is.

      So anyway, based on what I've posted, any recommendations for a suspension? I have another project I have to finish before I start on the truck, so I have plenty of time here. Thanks in advance.
      I would go the Airbag route with a nice long lower trailing arm, use the leverage of the arm and have the bag mounted forward on the arm. that with a good shock has provided many Airbagged trucks witha great ride. I am not sure about your wifes health and i hope she gets better.
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      check out Opentracker Racing Products

    3. #3
      Join Date
      Nov 2016
      Location
      Sulphur, La
      Posts
      452
      3-link or torque arm. You will need to design for having enough wheel travel while using high quality coilovers with mild spring rates and some modern bumpstops to control compression as you near the last 2" or so of travel.

    4. #4
      Join Date
      Mar 2018
      Location
      la mesa, CA
      Posts
      225
      Quote Originally Posted by CSG View Post
      3-link or torque arm. You will need to design for having enough wheel travel while using high quality coilovers with mild spring rates and some modern bumpstops to control compression as you near the last 2" or so of travel.
      To add to this you could use a very rad off-road air bump stop and tune the pressure in it to make it hand the last couple inches pretty well. Good call CSG.
      Follow my Instagram
      And my build on here
      check out Opentracker Racing Products

    5. #5
      Join Date
      Nov 2016
      Location
      Sulphur, La
      Posts
      452
      The off road can bumps may be too stiff. I worked with King a while back trying to get a set for a light weight offroad vehicle & they were not able to get them soft enough. I think an on road vehicle MAY have the same issue. This build is screaming for a soft spring big bar combo with decent wheel travel and great geometry. (and heavy rebound dampning)

    6. #6
      Join Date
      Nov 2018
      Posts
      347
      Country Flag: United States
      Sadly, the wife will never get better. The damage is permanent, and the doctors have done what they can. It won't get better but at least it won't really get any worse.

      I'm not big on the airbag idea, heard too many stories about airbags failing to be comfortable with them since a failure means you're stranded. I know metal springs can also fail, but it takes more than normal wear and tear to break one.

      I'll look into all three of these to see which I like best. Any recommendations on where to get the setups from? However I go I'll be getting pro installation since this is likely to require welding, which is a skill I've never had the opportunity to pick up.

    7. #7
      Join Date
      Nov 2018
      Location
      Winston Salem, NC
      Posts
      93
      I don't like the air bag idea either. Have you looked into a Hotchkis TVS setup? Worked really well for my Silverado.

    8. #8
      Join Date
      Nov 2018
      Posts
      347
      Country Flag: United States
      Quote Originally Posted by KnightmareZ View Post
      I don't like the air bag idea either. Have you looked into a Hotchkis TVS setup? Worked really well for my Silverado.
      No-go, not made for the Dakota. All Hotchkis offers for the Dakota is bump stops.

    9. #9
      Join Date
      Nov 2018
      Posts
      347
      Country Flag: United States
      I found this very neat writeup on rear suspensions. Based on advice from this board and other research I'm thinking that an offset wishbone 3 link might be the way to go here. I plan to pair this up with progressive coil springs, which will give a supple unloaded ride while still letting me use the truck as a truck when necessary. I'll let the suspension shop calculate what spring rates are needed. Will probably go with a Watts link for locating it.

      It will be a while before I get to this, but I'll be keeping this thread saved back and will post back results when the time comes. I have two pickups and a car to finish up before I start on my Dakota. Thanks for the assist, folks.

    10. #10
      Join Date
      Jan 2003
      Location
      Arizona
      Posts
      5,395
      Country Flag: United States
      You're on the right track. Ride quality is indeed more important than ultimate performance. Replacing the leaf springs with link style suspension will go a long way towards accomplishing your goal. Leaf springs are always a compromise since they must serve two masters -- locating the rear axle and holding the vehicle up. Link type suspension divides the two processes. The links locate the axle while coil springs hold the vehicle up and shocks take care of damping. From there, the second biggest contributor to ride quality is tire selection. Sidewall is your friend. Beyond that, it's all about choosing high quality parts that allow for tuning. With coilovers, you can fine tune spring selection and shock settings long after the money has been spent and the welder is put away.

      When you are ready, we have an excellent universal 4-link with R-Joint rod ends and universal HQ Series coilovers. Links below. We will be there to help you with shock valving, spring selection and installation. Concentrate on the rear suspension for now as it is mostly responsible for ride quality and less complicated (no steering to worry about) Up front, plan on a simple spring change with shock absorbers that match your rear coilovers. If all of that sounds like a bit much, go ahead and pick up a set of our Dakota shocks for now. It's a great place to start. Links:

      Universal 4 Links: https://www.ridetech.com/products/bo...ersal-4-links/
      Universal HQ Series Coilovers: https://www.ridetech.com/products/co...al-coil-overs/

      Dakota Front Shocks: https://www.ridetech.com/application...ock-hq-series/
      Dakota Rear Shocks: https://www.ridetech.com/application...ock-hq-series/
      Last edited by Steve Chryssos; 11-21-2018 at 05:37 AM.
      ________________
      Steve Chryssos


      Ridetech.com
      Email: stevenATridetech.com

      My PT Garage:
      https://www.pro-touring.com/dto_show...preview&g=1288

    11. #11
      Join Date
      Nov 2018
      Posts
      347
      Country Flag: United States
      Thanks. Do you have anything along the lines of a 3 link? What I'm thinking I want to do is a 3 link, with the top link attaching to the passenger side frame rail. I kinda like this setup since it wouldn't affect my fuel tank. A three link is supposed to be a lot less binding than a 4 link as well.

      http://www.nfamusmetal.com/88-98-che...link-wishbone/

      https://www.gmt400.com/data/attachme...1f1960a31c.jpg

      No worries on sidewall, I rarely if ever get anything shorter than a 65 series. I don't like rubber band tires. I mean, who in the racing world runs rubber bands? Even NASCAR doesn't run them.

    12. #12
      Join Date
      Sep 2011
      Location
      Southern Ontario
      Posts
      640
      Country Flag: Canada
      I think the 3 link in the attachment would have a lot of bind.

    13. #13
      Join Date
      Oct 2018
      Location
      Phoenix, AZ
      Posts
      579
      Country Flag: United States
      You certainly have an uphill battle in some ways trying to satisfy two conflicting needs. But more power to ya. It can be done...I think.

      Personally I'd probably do a Watts link setup. Not sure how that affects your fuel tank, but you are going this far. I've been involved with a few Mustangs running a Watts link with various coilovers/lowering springs. Rides surprisingly well with good adjustable shocks either way.

      Food for thought.

      -Sean
      '95 F-150 track ready street beast
      Want more projects/photos? Check my Instagram

    14. #14
      Join Date
      Nov 2018
      Posts
      347
      Country Flag: United States
      The fuel tank is in front of the axle, so a Watts link vs fuel tank wouldn't be an issue.

    15. #15
      Join Date
      Jul 2006
      Location
      Chesapeake, VA
      Posts
      511
      I get that you have a real aversion to bags, but given the very high priority ride has on your list I'd reconsider. Living in a place where the road surface is basically made of salt 4 1/2 months of the year I've seen a strut spring break and stab right through the sidewall of a tire. Yeah, your project won't be in that environment but I think you get the point.

      Air bags literally run hundreds of thousands of miles on heavy duty trucks without replacement. Premature failures are caused by improper installation of the supply lines or allowing something to rub against the bag. With adequate clearance around the air spring you shouldn't have any issues until it approaches 10 years old. That's no different than running 10 year old tires, the rubber ozone rots and becomes unsound.
      Cars are meant to be driven.

      John B

    16. #16
      Join Date
      Nov 2018
      Posts
      347
      Country Flag: United States
      I'm getting closer on this. Question, how do airbags do in auto-X style racing? Rethinking the airbag/coil spring thing. I'm a static height kinda guy, not interested in "laying frame" or anything like that, but see the value in being able to level the truck when it's carrying a load. However, I also like my suspension to be predictable. Some of the posts I've read have mentioned problems in setting up airbag suspensions since they are infinitely variable. Also wondering about front springs/rear bags. Can anyone post experiences with both, perhaps made the change on their own vehicle?

      I'm almost finished with my current project, redoing my mother's truck. Barring any problems it should be finished tomorrow (WOO WOO!) but I promised the wife to finish our yard so she can get a dog before I start on mine. I hope to start on my truck this January, so no hurry.

    17. #17
      Join Date
      Nov 2018
      Posts
      347
      Country Flag: United States
      Getting closer. Talking to a friend of my brother's who is supposed to be a decent local pro-touring competitor. Still aiming at getting the suspension work done after the first of the year.

    18. #18
      Join Date
      Nov 2018
      Posts
      347
      Country Flag: United States
      Ugh, no progress yet. All this COVID stuff has thrown a monkey wrench into the works. I've discussed the project, waiting on a quote and a start time. The guy I want to use has a couple of other customer projects to finish up before he can start on mine. But, we're going to be using old-school Granada parts along with coilovers for this, along with booster airbags for load carrying. Once I get a formal quote and can order parts, it'll be getting a Ford 8.8in rear differential as this one is as strong as a 9 inch, but also can be had with a 108 tooth reluctor ring for the rear wheel ABS.

    19. #19
      Join Date
      Nov 2006
      Location
      Mountain Springs, Texas
      Posts
      3,801
      Country Flag: United States
      No Limit Engineering has a nice universal rear four bar and front clip. They also have an IRS rear clip.

      Give Rob a call.

      I built this 50 on one of his bagged frames. Rides very nice.


      Don
      Attached Images Attached Images  
      1969 Camaro - LSA 6L90E AME sub/IRS
      1957 Buick Estate Wagon
      1959 El Camino - Ironworks frame
      1956 Cameo - full C5 suspension/drivetrain

    20. #20
      Join Date
      May 2015
      Location
      Island Lake, IL
      Posts
      803
      Country Flag: United States
      Unless you have the money and skill to install a link suspension, I would concentrate on good shocks for your stock suspension and a good wheel/tire combo.

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