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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Truck is a 2021 RAM 3500 without the air system. I ordered the base Backcountry kit along with their torsion sway bar and full progressive leaf springs.

To head off a couple questions I get asked:
"Why didn't you just get a 2500?"
I didn't want rear coils.

"Why are you going to "waste" a 3500 by putting such low capacity rear leaf springs on?"
I don't tow heavy nor load my bed heavy. If I do end up some day needing that extra capacity, I can always add airbags later.

Previous install experience has been a Thuren system on my old '07 RAM 2500, and a Carli Backcountry system on my wife's Wrangler. This install looks a bit more involved, but, hopefully nothing too drastic. No welding is required thankfully.

I wish I had a huge garage and a lift installed. Or even a normal sized garage that would fit the truck inside. My garage is 20' deep, so I'm stuck outside. :cautious:

I'll be posting a lot of pictures and explaining some things along the way that may hopefully help others out in the future when they do their systems.

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Sway bar drop is because I was going to run the factory sway bar while waiting for production to finish on the Carli sway bar.
The Carli bar came in before I got around to installing the system, so now I'll have to sell that or something.
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I have almost 30K miles on the truck now. First time up in the air.
(Yeah, I didn't rotate the factory tires, just going to get rid of the wheels/tires anyways once I get these new ones on.)
I used the jack under the radius arm/axle connection area of each side to lift the truck.
The diff looked a bit too far off-center to try using that.
Rear wheels chocked.
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First part to install is the Radius Arm Drop Brackets (RADB from here on).
This is the most intimidating part to me as it requires drilling the frame. One drilled hole per bracket.
I've never done brackets on previous installs. (Fear not, Carli makes it super simple, to be detailed later.)
Hell of a packing job with them as well.
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The bolts are conveniently divided up into four sections for the different uses.
Not labeled, but, easy enough to figure out which section is what using a tape measure and the contents inventory.
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I'm going to start this post professing my love for the Milwaukee lights. No this is not a paid advertisement.:LOL:
I have spent LOTS of money in the past on various halogen and cheaper LED setups. Nothing has compared to what these do.
Now, I'm not saying there's nothing out there capable, but I haven't owned it, and bonus that it uses my M18 batteries.
I'm a big fan of the clarity/color of the light they put out. I'm loving the little cube light as well.
It's also magnetic so you could attach it to the frame, the light itself tilts/swivels in all directions, and you can also clamp it onto 2x lumber etc. if you wanted to go that route.
"Buy once, cry once" is the outlook I've moved to.
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Also love my Rocket light!
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"Looks" dirty underneath, but I just recently had it coated in Krown Coatings to keep the rust away.
Good stuff, I suggest looking it up if they treat your roads with garbage in the winter.
Shock bolt and two radius arm bolts come out easily.
The nut on top of the shock also comes out easily, plenty of room for a wrench up there.
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One radius arm on the ground.
I found it easiest to do all the nuts first, pop out the two front bolts, swing it down, and the pop out the rear bolt.
I'm using ratchets, breaker bars, and wrenches and was able to get this out in about 15 minutes.
Maybe someday I'll upgrade to an impact.
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The bracket goes on pretty easily once you read through the directions a couple times and make sure to understand everything.
The instructions are for 2014+, and they don't mention that our trucks use the longer transmission crossmember bolts, but it is mentioned on the product page, and they are shipped with the kit and include their own instructions.
The instructions also state that the old crossmember bolts need to be cut off, they don't. It also says something about unclipping and moving a DEF plug, but you don't. Maybe that is for 2014-2018 trucks?

The Radius Arm Drop Bracket (RADB from here on) attaches using 5 bolts through factory mounting locations, to include two on the transmission crossmember.
These are all installed and torqued before the last hole is marked and drilled.
Note that some of these bolts need to be tightened to 280 ft/lbs.

Here you can see the 5 bolts to include the two extended crossmember bolts.
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Instructions state to use a right-angle drill for drilling through the frame, as the space is a bit tight.
I was undecided on buying a 3/8" Milwaukee M12 right-angle drill, setting up my air and using an air drill, or buying the Hole Hawg and not questioning anything.
Hole Hawg won, I'll use it for other things I'm sure when I go to refinish my basement later.
Would love to hear what anyone else used for their holes!
I had plenty of space to drill my PILOT hole using my regular drill, but the regular drill did not fit with the 1/2" bit in there with my power steps.
I would suggest getting under your own truck with your drill & bit to see how much space you have, might be able to get away with it.

I had to remove the "palm handle" off the Hole Hawg to get it to fit. Size reference.
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Carli includes this 3/4" Milwaukee hole saw bit.
1/2" drill bit is NOT included.
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
OK drilling the hole. How does this all work anyways to guarantee a perfectly landed hole through the frame?
This is what I was most nervous about.

Starts with the included 1/2"-3/4" bushing and a center marking punch (NOT INCLUDED).
This can be picked up from McMaster-Carr for pretty cheap. Don't skimp on this step, this location needs to be precise.
McMaster-Carr
Part # 3374A41

The bushing is very close fit to the RADB hole (.009" difference in diameter, so about .0045" clearance all the way around).
With the RADB bolted to the truck, the 1/2"-3/4" bushing in place, squared up in the hole and against the frame, you'll mark the center of the hole using the center marking punch.
I used a heavier duty centering punch in the hole after to make it a bit more defined.
Obviously this would be on the truck, this is just to show the process.
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I used a small drill bit and progressively stepped up to the 11/64" bit before switching over to the hole saw.
That's just what I did to feel comfortable -- do what works for you.
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3/4" hole saw worked flawlessly.
I used cutting oil as well at the recommendation of some people, I don't know if it is necessary but I felt better about it.
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At this point I used a telescoping magnet to get as much of the metal shavings out of the frame as I could, to include the little "disc" that popped through (needle-nose).
I did this again after drilling the second hole, this is just the pile from the first hole.
I will be spraying Fluid Film through all the holes to soak everything again fresh inside the frame rails. Currently coated in Krown.
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This is the provided jig for landing the 1/2" drill bit exactly where it needs to go in the back (inner) frame rail.
It's square, and comes with a pressed-in bushing. I wrapped it in electrical tape to prevent scratching.
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Here's what it will look like once pressed into the newly-drilled 3/4" hole.
The jig is clamped in place to prevent potential movement or misalignment.
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1/2" drill bit does its job, comes perfectly out the back side.
You can test fit all this yourself on a bench before you start mounting or drilling anything.
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Here's how it looks on the truck.
1/2" bit sitting in place before drilling, along with the jig clamped down.
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Lots of room for the drill here.
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Success! (Backside)
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Couple swear words and ratchet straps, and the driver's side arm is back in.
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Passenger's side shock, radius arm, and transmission crossmember bolts all dropped out quickly.
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But that was the end of today's happiness — Honeymoon ended this morning.:cautious:
Slid the RADB onto the passenger side, but couldn't get the bolt holes to line up correctly. The ear/tab that goes against the transmission crossmember did also not look close enough.
When I looked at the RADB, I could see that it was gouging from the truck's original bracket.
Pulled it all back off.
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I gave the factory bracket a slight tweak with an adjustable wrench to pull it "in", or, towards the outside of the truck to give a slight bit more room to slide over it.
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You can see where the RADB is hitting the trans crossmember bracket in that corner nook.
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Contact point on the RADB.
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Contact point on the crossmember.
Option 1: Grind down the corner of the bracket for clearance
Option 2: Clearance trans crossmember, but I'm dismissing this because it's in the "meaty" part. If it was the unsupported corner, I'd consider that.
Option 3: Carli's sales team replied to my email; waiting to hear back from their engineering department.
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Misalignment due to not being able to slide back far enough.
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2021 Ram 3500 CC/LB 4X4 6.7 HO
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Thanks for all the detailed photo's and explanations. Looks like your taking the extra time to do things right! Your trucks going to look awesome when completed.
I'll more than likely be going with a Carli level for my 3500
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Pretty quick morning today.
Sway bar, track bar, springs, and bump stops pulled out. All pretty quick work to get these out.
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all the detailed photo's and explanations. Looks like your taking the extra time to do things right! Your trucks going to look awesome when completed.
I'll more than likely be going with a Carli level for my 3500
Thanks, I sure hope so!
 

· Rear Admiral Rickard Onmi
2018 Ram 3500 CCLBSRW
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You must be working a day job and doing this when you get home, me and a buddy did one on his truck in an afternoon, looking good though, keep it up
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yep...working on the truck in mornings where it's easier to see, and a little warmer out. Working evenings after. Would be a lot further along but that dang trans crossmember is eating into some of my time. No extra hands either, I wish!

And thanks...I'll continue plugging away and bringing the updates.
 
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VERY well documented install, Dave! Subscribing to this one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Been a hell of a busy weekend, but got done what I could.
Here's a better shot of the driver's side RADB installed:

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The passenger's side RADB had some interference issues with some loose tolerances of the truck's transmission crossmember.
Spoke to Dan, he said to modify my bracket for now, they are going to evaluate some revisions, and send out a new one when that process is complete.
Hard to beat the customer service these guys provide, and why I have to keep hiding parts in my house from them. :LOL:
I believe I used a 60 grit flap disc.
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Was a little painful at first to hit it with the wheel, but, whatever.
Mainly just knocking down the backside of the corner in this area:
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Had to take a slight amount off the "spacing pad" on this one edge here also.
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Some paint stuff I had laying around from previous projects. Even if this bracket were staying, wouldn't notice it under there once it's touched up.
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Ain't perfect, but was burning time.
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Next to be installed were the bump drops. Super solid units.
The instructions read as if it sounded like they were able to "click" into place while drilling the hole and installing them, but they don't snap into place. Maybe older trucks do? Not sure.
2. Place the thin, flat portion of the fabricated bump-stop drop into the factory cup and push it up until it snaps in and the top of the fabricated bump drop is resting against the bottom lip of the factory bump stop cup.
It's not hard to do it holding it in place though.
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They do require you to center-punch for marking the location of the hole.
I didn't have the appropriate size, so a few wraps of electrical tape gets it "close enough" in this area; there's plenty of wiggle room.
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The instructions call for a 19/64" drill bit, which I noticed a lot of the smaller bit sets do NOT have.
Make sure to plan ahead and have this bit, as it's important to size correctly for the self-tapping screw. Don't over-do it once you punch the hole through.
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Factory bump stop back in there.
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· Rear Admiral Rickard Onmi
2018 Ram 3500 CCLBSRW
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If you ever need help hiding Carli stuff lmk. I'll help. The only reason i have thuren instead of Carli is they don't offer the height i wanted for my level. If anyone ever has anything bad to say about Carli they be a liar. Great stuff from them. And amazing people
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Getting the front springs in next — going to need a lot of axle droop for these.
This will require removing the two bolts on each side attaching the brake line brackets, plus an electrical connection's "christmas tree plug" on the passenger side.
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I used larger jack stands under the truck frame, just behind the RADB (on the meaty part of the frame), setting them as high as I safely felt.
Used my smaller set under the front axle.

Before pulling a driveshaft off, I like to mark it and the flange with a grease pen to make sure it's lined back up the way it came out.
It may not matter on this truck, but I'd rather not worry about it.
Support the front driveshaft with a cargo strap.
Getting creative with a pry bar and a breaker bar, you can get these bolts loosened.
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Springs are marked Driver and Passenger side.
Make sure they are on the correct side, and right-side up.
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The shock reservoir brackets are also marked for Driver and Passenger, along with an indexing hole for a nipple on the spring isolator that pushes into the top of the coil bucket.
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There is only one way for them to line up on the truck using the isolator.
Driver's side ends up with the logo facing out. See the alignment of the spring and isolator pad.
NOTE: shock went in after the spring, not before.
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Passenger side ends up with the logo facing IN towards the truck. Confirmed this with Carli and that is OK.
Previous generations instructions have specified that the logo needs to face outwards, so I double-checked with them.
Note indexing of spring and upper isolator. (Spring will be turned slightly to line up, it's where it rested against for a pic.)
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With the springs in, move to the shocks.
Don't be an idiot like me and forget to put the brake lines back where they go BEFORE putting the shock in.
That was a waste of a few minutes taking that top nut off and on again.
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Looking partially together again.
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hey great write up! detailed with pics 🙏🏼 the only thing i did different was leave the radius arms on the axle and just dropped the whole front axle out with 2 jacks under it. i just have to button up and double check things when my schedule allows…i miss having days on days to work on things! getting old is rough haha
 

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AWESOME job on this write up!

By the way, we like to use large ratchet straps under the axle when installing coils and track bars. That lets you support the axle, and easily raise and lower it as needed during the project. You can also use an additional ratchet strap to shift and axle over for an easy track bar alignment! We use the same method for the rear when installing leaf springs to wrangle everything into place while we hold the springs. An added bonus is that you need less jack stands with that method too!
 

· Rear Admiral Rickard Onmi
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When i did my traction bar we had the truck on jack stands and slowly jacked up the passenger side of the axle until it was in alignment
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
hey great write up! detailed with pics 🙏🏼 the only thing i did different was leave the radius arms on the axle and just dropped the whole front axle out with 2 jacks under it. i just have to button up and double check things when my schedule allows…i miss having days on days to work on things! getting old is rough haha
Thanks! In hindsight, I like that idea better; I think I could have made that work, and wouldn't have had to mess with the 4 front bolts.

I hear you on needing time! We are leaving tomorrow on a drive from PA to MA for Christmas. Nothing like waiting until last minute to tear the truck apart! And working against an unforgiving timeline. Some more time, a concrete floor, and 4 walls would be real nice!

AWESOME job on this write up!

By the way, we like to use large ratchet straps under the axle when installing coils and track bars. That lets you support the axle, and easily raise and lower it as needed during the project. You can also use an additional ratchet strap to shift and axle over for an easy track bar alignment! We use the same method for the rear when installing leaf springs to wrangle everything into place while we hold the springs. An added bonus is that you need less jack stands with that method too!
Thank you!

Dumb question — do you have ratchet straps that allow you to lower a click at a time? I've used them to support different things and thought "man, I wish I could release it just a click or two without losing the whole thing." Great tip on the track bar and leaf springs as well!
 
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