May 9, 2017

Carli to the Rescue!

Motorsports Safety Solutions; they’re a company very well known for providing first-response services to the racing community. They just celebrated their 21st anniversary serving many off-road organizations; most notably, Best in the Desert. To those unfamiliar, these aren’t people making a living, or even cashing a paycheck, from their time spent at the races. These are people with full time jobs who give their free-time (and often take time off work) to support the racing community with their first-response services. As fate would have it, their trusty Excursion met it’s end after 10 years in service.

The racing community pooled its resourced and, through a much more arduous process than you care to read about, MSS became the proud owner of a brand new, 2016 F350 6.7L Diesel, 4x4, Crew Cab, Long Bed Chassis, XL Trim.

Before we’d even begun talks with the guys at MSS, KC lights, TR Beadlock, General Truck Body, General Tire, Johnson Emergency Equipment, and Ford all sponsored the build. A conversation with David Nehrbass, point-man at MSS, and we were on board as well. King was eager to step in and provide the shocks; Deaver was in for the leaf springs and we were up for the install, all Carli hard-parts and tuning to make it all jive. We’re honored to be a part of the build to give back to those that have given so much to the racing community. Our conversation with David was a breath a fresh air as he was humbled by this whole experience.

First thing’s first, the truck. We’re accustomed to starting with boring, stock trucks. For once, we had the privilege of being the last to the party so it was up to us to bring it all together. The truck showed up looking the part.

It didn’t take more than a quick test drive to figure out with what we were working. The truck was overloaded by about 500lbs respective to the door sticker. Driving it at highway speeds, mildly-controlled chaos at best. The service body and cargo engaged both the upper and lower leaf spring overloads. The body roll was overpowering in all turns and any dip or imperfection in the road larger than a couple inches would bounce the rear load off both overload springs long enough confirm the factory shocks were not up to the task of controlling the load or the violent, rhythmic bucking from the overload reengagement.

This performance spectrum of which this truck was capable would be unacceptable for the task at hand. Our job was to take it to the next level as its timely arrival could mean the difference between life and death. First, a trip to the scales to see with what we were working; quickly followed by a call to Deaver Suspension. We needed a set of leaf springs that was progressive in design, implemented our custom center pin location, and would handle the max capacity of this F350 through chase roads and the occasional run down the race-course. The truck scaled at 11,740lbs; 5,400 front, 6,340 rear. The guys at Deaver jumped in head first to the seemingly insurmountable task of producing this custom leaf spring in the 2-3 week time frame they were given.

The production was handled in a timely fashion and Deaver’s very own, Scott Born hand-delivered the leaf springs to our facility. When comparing the custom leaf springs to our production version of the Leveling Full Progressive Leaf Springs with ¾-ton capacity, they’re over ½” thicker thanks to the heavier gauge spring steel needed to bear the load.

L18 – Carli Production Full Springs with ¾-Ton Capacity

Custom Springs:

Next up, Tear down. We were equipping this with our 2.5” Lift Dominator System as the 3.0” King Shocks would provide a massive control increase for the over-loaded Super Duty. Man shocks require Man-Mounts; the factory coil buckets were replaced with our Dominator Buckets constructed of cold-rolled ¼” plate with full length reinforcements. We modified the upper shock mount to a higher, more outward position when compared to the factory buckets allowing longer, larger diameter shocks to cycle matched-travel to the extended free-length of our front coil springs.

Out with the old:


In with the new:

The front end was assembled with everything we make. Carli Coil springs, Carli Spec extended brake lines, Fabricated Radius Arms with Limit Straps, High Mount Steering Stabilizer, Front Differential Guard and 2° Caster Cams. Hell, our reservoir decal even matches the truck’s wrap. With this completed, we moved onto the rear.

With the tight deadlines with which we’re working, we only had one shot at the leaf springs. Even when all variables are set in stone, ordering a rear spring usually takes a couple tries to get it exactly where you want it. Luckily for everyone involved, Deaver knocked it out of the park. The truck sat 1/2” taller in the rear than the front with the water-tank full and all gear loaded up; we couldn’t be happier. The progressive springs will provide an extended and MUCH more predictable travel stroke while the monster King-3.0” shocks make short work of keeping the tires planted and the springs in check.

Out with the old:

In with the new:

The result - a perfect stance. Our custom Dominator valving needed an overhaul for the over-loaded 1-ton. A week of running the truck between our local testing hot-laps and the shock bench and the truck drives like one half its size; driver confidence is through the roof and getting into the spring rate no longer means spending 250 feet following an obstacle trying to regain control.

We’re excited to hear how David and the crew enjoy the new rig and will continue to post pictures of it in service as MSS sends them!

April 18, 2017

What is a Steering Stabilizer?

Contrary to popular belief, It’s not a magic cure for a wandering truck and it won’t fix your death-wobble. Well, it may mask Death Wobble but read our other blog article if you’re after a fix… I digress; It’s simply a damper designed for your steering. A Steering Damper’s purpose is to increase steering predictability while minimizing volatility, road noise and driver fatigue. Simply put, a good steering stabilizer will stabilize the steering; shocker, right?

Stock Steering Stabilizers are designed for stock steering and stock tires. They work well in this application (for about 50,000 miles) and ONLY this application. Throw on a Carli kit and some 35” or 37” tires and you’ll be left wanting. When the tire size increases, the stabilizer should be upgraded as well. Larger, aftermarket tires are significantly heavier and harder to control than factory tires, even in on-road applications.

With all the stabilizers offered, it’s easy to get lost. So which is right for your application?
There are two main types of stabilizers, Emulsion and IFP (Internal Floating Piston). Both are “gas” charged and contain oil. Emulsion shocks are often significantly cheaper than their IFP counterpart. These dampers mix the oil with the gas charge. Although the oil is pressurized by the gas, emulsion shocks do not function well in horizontally mounted applications; i.e. steering stabilizers. When mounted on its side, the oil rests on the bottom as it’s heavier than the gas which rises to the top. The result, a piston that’s only half-submerged in oil. When the piston starts working back and forth, it’s sloshing and foaming the oil offering almost no damping. These are the stabilizers you’ll normally find in cheaper, dual steering stabilizer kits that are more for aesthetics than performance.

All Carli Stabilizers are IFP’s.
Our preferred stabilizer design is the IFP. This stabilizer chambers the gas in the end of the shock opposite to the shaft. There is a “floating piston” inside the shock body which maintains the separation of gas and oil. The purpose of the gas charge is to hold pressure on the piston and thus, the oil. This design ensures the piston remains fully submerged resulting in valving that is 100% active, while preventing cavitation (foaming) of the oil. The result: superior, more predictable damping than an emulsion style shock.

Carli Stabilizers:
As mentioned, all Carli Stabilizers are IFP in design. That said, not all IFP shocks are created equal. Our proprietary stabilizers run a custom valving profile and small shaft diameter as we’ve found this combination best in steering damper applications. Their fully-rebuildable construction boasts a Stainless Steel body with Machined Billet Aluminum Rod ends housing precision 1/2” Spherical Bearings topped off with a hardened Black Nitride Shaft. The stabilizer’s nitrogen chamber is adjustable from 70psi to 200psi allowing customers to correct for radial tire-pull. If no pull exists, the Stabilizer can be set from 70psi to 100psi as this neutral range will pressurize the oil for proper function without biasing correcting in either direction.

We offer a High Mount and a Low Mount Stabilizer for 2003 to Current Rams and a High-Mount for 2005+ Super Duties. The following configuration options are available:


2003-13 2500 4x4, 2003-12 3500 4x4: NOTE: There are “T” and “Y” suffixes following these part numbers referring to their mounting application on different model years. Typically, 2003-08 use the “Y” style steering and 08.5+ use the “T”. These suffixes have been excluded from the below for simplification.

CS-DLMSS-03 Low Mount Steering Stabilizer:
This stabilizer replaces your factory steering stabilizer with our IFP Unit. It’s orientation allows for correction of right-hand radial pull by adjusting the nitrogen pressure. A Differential Guard and Diff-Guard Bracket can be added to reverse the stabilizer’s orientation allowing left-hand radial pull correction. A “Y” Clamp is needed to adapt this to the 2003-08 factory steering linkage whether run in standard or reversed orientation from the Diff Guard.

CS-DHMSS-03 High Mount Steering Stabilizer:
The High-Mount adds a secondary stabilizer out of harm’s way to the upper steering link, the drag-link. There are no provisions from the factory for an upper stabilizer; thus, we provide a bracket for the frame side and a billet clamp for the upper-tie-rod-end on the steering. It’s orientation allows for correction of right-hand radial pull by adjusting the nitrogen pressure. When a severe right-hand pull is encountered, this stabilizer can be combined with the above low-mount for double the correction; both pushing toward the driver’s side. This combination provides fantastic damping as there will be one stabilizer on each steering link. This stabilizer should only be run in conjunction with a low-mount as it’s not designed to be an only stabilizer.

CS-DSSOK Opposing Steering Stabilizer Kit:
This Kit includes both the above Low-Mount and High Mount Stabilizers with the addition of the Differential Guard and Bracket. The purpose of the Differential Guard and Bracket are to provide an alternate means of mounting the low-mount stabilizer, changing its direction of correction. Mounting the fixed side of the stabilizer on the Diff Guard Bracket and the clamp to the steering effects a push toward the passenger side to counter the High-Mount Stabilizer’s push toward the driver’s side. This is the best correction offered as it provides a completely adjustable steering stabilization package that can be set to neutral for trucks that drive true, or adjusted respective to any radial pull one could encounter while offering protection for the differential.

2014- Current 2500 Ram 4x4, 2013- Current 3500 Ram 4x4

CS-DLMSS-14 Low Mount Steering Stabilizer:
This stabilizer replaces your factory steering stabilizer with our IFP unit and a tie-rod bracket to ensure easy installation and proper functionality. It’s orientation allows for correction of left-hand radial pull by adjusting the nitrogen pressure.

CS-DHMSS-14 High Mount Steering Stabilizer:
The High-Mount adds a secondary stabilizer out of harm’s way to the upper steering link, the drag-link. There are no provisions from the factory for an upper stabilizer; thus, we provide a bracket for the frame side and a billet clamp for the upper-tie-rod-end on the steering. It’s orientation allows for correction of right-hand radial pull by adjusting the nitrogen pressure. Combining this with the Carli Low-Mount Stabilizer above is the best correction offered providing a completely adjustable steering stabilization for trucks that drive true, while being fully adjustable respective to any radial pull one could encounter. Further, the combination provides fantastic damping as there will be one stabilizer on each steering link. This stabilizer should only be run in conjunction with a low-mount as it’s not designed to be an only stabilizer.

FORD: 2005-16 Super Duty F250/F350 4x4

CS-FHMSS-08 High Mount Steering Stabilizer:
This stabilizer replaces your factory steering stabilizer with our IFP Unit. It’s orientation allows for correction of right-hand radial pull by adjusting the nitrogen pressure.

December 2, 2016

2017 Ford Super Duty Updates

Click on the above photo to get more details on pricing and availability!!

Subscribe to our 2017 Super Duty Email List to hear it first!

Circa late 2010, Sage Carli decided there was a gap in the Ford market that no one but he could fill. The Super Duty checked all the boxes; straight axle, diesel, and most importantly, a large enthusiast market looking for something better. Reluctant as any Ram fanatic would be, he picked up a 2011 Super-Duty XLT equipped with every option he wanted and nothing more: 3.55 Gears, E-Locker rear and a center console. After all, it was destined to live the life of a test mule; no frills required. This was the start of something fantastic. Over the past 6 years and 160,000 miles, the truck has seen more dirt and pavement in the United States (and Mexico) than most people will see in their lifetime. As reluctant as he was to daily drive a Super Duty, the platform won him over and it would take an act of God to pry the truck from his possession after all they’ve been through.

Well, all good things must come to an end; 2016 marks the last model year of the C-channel frame, steel bodied, Super-Duty specific cab running the now refined, 6-year-old 6.7L Scorpion V8 Turbo Diesel that we’ve all come to know and love. Given the truck’s potential to become Ford’s “Holy Grail”, Dan (Carli’s Sales Manager) purchased a 2016 F250 so the long-term testing is far from over in the 11-16 platform.

Lucky for us, the end of something great could mean something better is cresting the horizon. Our order was placed and the wait began. Enter the 2017 Super Duty in all its boxed frame, F150 aluminum-cabbed glory. September 16th couldn’t come quick enough.

We ordered the truck in the same XLT package hoping to begin the story exactly as we had the 2011. The test drive didn’t reveal much as we picked her up on a Friday afternoon; seat time would begin the following week. Initial impressions, the truck was large inside (especially the back seat), FAST, quiet, comfortable and… well… stock. Toss on a camper shell and it was ready for Grandpa to take the kids to the park. We were heading in a different direction.

We put in some seat time the following week to find the truck to be comfortable around town on small obstacles, anything over the size of a decent crack in the pavement kicked the unloaded rear end to epic proportions, no different than the last platform. The steering was tighter with a slight wander to the front end. Overall, there was a ton of room for improvement. Word is, this platform was only around 300 pounds lighter than its predecessor. At first glance, the extremities of the revamped undercarriage looked very much the same with subtle differences. It appeared they’d welded the old coil buckets to the frame, increased some bolt sizes and kept pretty much all geometry the same short of a few exceptions to be discussed later. That said, the weight was transferred from the body panels to the frame resulting in a lower center of gravity and better handling which becomes very apparent when you’re fortunate, or opportunistic, enough to jump behind the wheel of both.

First things first, we had to see where she sat, alignment-wise, in stock form. For the first time in a long while, we’re impressed with the result. Ford FINALLY realized 1° of positive caster will not cut it on this platform. This caster reading reflects the truck’s handling; the front end is tight and responsive. There's still a touch of wander in stock form but we'll see if that's just the front end wearing itself in or a byproduct of the "adaptive" steering with which most of these trucks are now equipped.

Onto the frame, the new, boxed chassis means the factory coil buckets cannot be easily removed. In the 05-16 models, you could air-chisel your way to greatness. In a matter of a few hours, you’d be bolting on one of our Coilover, Coilover Bypass, Dominator or Unchained Systems while remaining easily returnable to stock. Well, Ford took a page out of Ram’s playbook and welded everything to the frame. This doesn’t mean the aforementioned kits won’t be available, they’ll just require a bit more commitment to install and it’ll be a while longer in R&D. We don’t anticipate the weld-on Coilover conversions and Dominator Kits to be available until late 2017. If we’re going to provide you a kit of that caliber, we’re going to take our time to ensure it’s perfect.

I digress, we tossed in our 2.5” lift Coil Springs, 2° Caster Shims, Progressive Add-A-Packs and a Commuter Shock Package (Fox 2.0” IFP) and found the track bar design had changed; the ball joint was now installed in the track bar (lifting the pivot point) opposed to being pressed into the axle which should result in better geometry for lifted application. Secondly, the brake lines were changed. We made the necessary call to our brake line manufacturer and got that in the works while we worked on the rest.

The good news, the coil springs worked and shocks cycled perfectly. Even better, we installed our Progressive Add-A-Pack onto the factory leaf springs without the factory block to find the rear sat 3/4” taller than the front. Our Add-A-Pack will now eliminate the need for the 3” factory block and run with a rear bump stop drop to strike off the axle. No block means reduced axle-wrap and wheel hop; that’s a win for everyone. We’re REALLY beginning to like this platform!

Once the Commuter valving was dialed in, we jumped to the Backcountry (Fox 2.0 Remote Reservoir). A slight valving change from the 05-16 and new lower shock bushing in the rear and we were running beautifully. At this point, we swapped in the Full Progressive Leaf Springs to ensure a nice balance in valving between the two rear spring options for the remote-reservoir shock equipped systems. The 2011-16 springs sat perfect. The only annoyance was a slightly larger bolt from the previous year that will now require the fuel tank to be dropped/manipulated to install the springs. We ended up cutting it down and inserting it the other way as we knew we’d be swapping springs again in the near future.

It was then time for the Radius Arms; we crossed our fingers and bolted them up. Our 2005-16 arms went in without a hitch!

At this point, it was time to test 37” tire fitment. The 37x13.5 (14.4” actual width) tires and 18x9” American Force Wheels were swapped over from Dan’s truck to see how they’d fit, even with their non-ideal 4.5” backspacing. The results were as expected, looked amazing and netted us a bit of rub we refused to trim given we still had no extended track bar installed and were going up to a 4.5” lift sooner than later.

We decided it was 37” tires or nothing with how good they looked on the truck and called the guys over at TR Beadlock Wheels. Larry was happy to be a part of the build and sent us some 20x9.5” TR Simulated Beadlocks in a 5” Backspacing with raw centers and black rings. We ordered some 37x13.5” Toyo R/T to pair with the wheels.

Onto the Pintop, we tossed in the shocks and found a valving that worked great on both the Progressive Add-A-Pack and Full Progressive Spring Pack. The only design difference in the shocks, aside from valving, is the larger, 14mm lower shock bolt in the rear up from 12mm in previous years. New misalignment spacers and bushing for other shock packages are in the works!

We’ve progressed through the Leveling Kit, Commuter, Backcountry and Pintop Systems to date in the 2.5” lifts and are extremely happy with the ride quality and performance of the new platform. Here’s a rundown of current kits in R&D what we’re anticipating:

2.5” Leveling Kit:
Big changes to this kit for the 2017 platform. Bilstein tuned 5100 will not be offered. We designed this for the Super Duty owner on a budget with an eye for quality as it now includes Carli-Tuned Fox 2.0” shocks all around! A nicely improved on-road ride without modifying the rear springs. An adjustable track bar is recommended but not necessary.
  • 2.5” Coil Springs
  • Carli Front Bump Cups
  • 2° Caster Shims
  • Brake Line Tabs
  • Front and Rear Carli Specific Tuned Fox 2.0 IFP

2.5” Commuter: A vastly improved on-road ride balanced front to rear.
  • 2.5” Coil Springs
  • Carli Front Bump Cups
  • 2° Caster Shims
  • Adjustable Track Bar
  • Extended Stainless Brake Lines
  • Progressive Add-A-Pack
  • Rear Bump Stop drop
  • Front and Rear Carli Specific Tuned Fox 2.0 IFP

2.5” Backcountry: On-road improvement to match the Commuter with great light-duty off-road control and capability to run Full Progressive Leaf Springs for exponential on and off-road improvement.
  • 2.5” Coil Springs
  • Carli Front Bump Cups
  • 2° Caster Shims
  • Adjustable Track Bar
  • Extended Stainless Brake Lines
  • Progressive Add-A-Pack
  • Rear Bump Stop drop
  • Front and Rear Carli Specific Tuned Fox 2.0 Remote Reservoir with Reservoir Mounts

2.5” Pintop: Huge On-road improvement with vast off-road capability and control. Best run with Full Progressive Leaf Springs for exponential on and off-road improvement.
  • 2.5” Coil Springs
  • Carli Front Bump Cups
  • 2° Caster Shims
  • Adjustable Track Bar
  • Extended Stainless Brake Lines
  • Progressive Add-A-Pack
  • Rear Bump Stop drop
  • Front and Rear Carli Specific Tuned King 2.5” Remote Reservoir with Reservoir Mounts

2.5” Coilover, Coilover/Bypass, Dominator and 4.5” Commuter, Backcounty, Pintop, Coilover, Coilover/Bypass, Dominator, & Unchained will follow in the coming year. Check back for updates!

October 20, 2016


Carli Suspension – Ram Track Bars

Dear Customer:
Carli Suspension, as part of its routine assessment of its products, has discovered a possible manufacturing defect in the gold, spherical joint included in Track Bars manufactured from February 2015 to October 2016. The Track Bars of concern DPRB-03 and DPRB-14. If the particular joint is defective, it could fail under some conditions of operation. Although there has been only one reported failure, Carli Suspension is offering replacement spherical joints free of charge to those possessing potentially affected gold spherical joints.

Customer Video Instruction: Changing the Rod-End Instructional Video
CS-DPRB-03 Supplement: Changing the Rod-End Download Link
CS-DPRB-14 Supplement: Changing the Rod-End Download Link
CS-DPRB-03 Instructions: Updated to include the new Rod-End Download Link
CS-DPRB-14 Instructions: Updated to include the new Rod-End Download Link

For customers in need of replacements, please contact Carli Suspension directly at or 888-99-CARLI. A picture of an installed track bar with a gold, spherical rod-end in the axle side is the only documentation required to qualify for a replacement joint.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact a customer service representative at 888-99-CARLI. We will be happy to assist you!

As always, thank you for your continued support!
Carli Suspension Team

August 1, 2016

What’s Happening at Carli?

Well, we’ve again failed to keep this blog updated; we thought it right to tell you why. A lot has been happening here at the shop from new equipment purchases to website updating all while keeping our special projects rolling along. Most importantly, information delivery, we know our website wasn’t the best. Back in 2008, it was awesome! We continually put off updating while we put together an entirely new site to showcase our new, restructured part number system. Well, this has proved to be a painstaking process that’s dragged on for years so we figured we’d put some time into the current site to make it easier to navigate, give it a facelift so those who visit often wouldn’t be looking at the same old thing, and add a slew of products that are available but not listed. All these changes are live and we have more in the works; keep an eye out!

First things first, landing pages! We offer so many kits for so many trucks but never had a direct path to get to the newer products. Well, that’s all changed. You’ll notice the right-hand graphics have changed and are more user-friendly.

When you click on Ram or Ford systems from the updated homepage graphics, it’ll navigate you to a landing page where you can click your truck and only see products applicable to your selection. This is VERY exciting for us as our old design was developed early on and wasn’t expandable with the product line. The redesign means intuitive navigation and customers can now see the products in which they’re interested opposed to weeding through product only to find an application guide that excludes their vehicle.

We’ve added our full range of 1500 Kits for the 4x4 Hemi and Eco-Diesel trucks on which we’ve spend innumerable hours tweaking and running trucks for our end valving profiles. We have a Commuter 2.0 for the Daily Driver and Weekend Warrior, then a Performance 2.5 for those looking to maximize on and off-road capability with a bolt-on suspension. We’re finishing up our Upper Control Arm and are anticipating early 2017 availability.

On the production end of things, we’re recently purchased a CNC mill and Lathe. We got the machines to cut down on lead times for prototype and to start machining of many of our small parts. Well, one thing led to another and we’ve acquired a third machine that is a CNC Lathe with live tooling. The smaller machines wet our appetite and we’re now bringing ball joint machining in house and who knows what else! This is yet another exciting move in the step of innovation while trimming lead times of current product and bringing quality control in house. As we grow, we invest not only to expand our product lines but to better the products we’re delivering and cut down on lead times.

In the Ford World, the long-awaited Excursion project has come to an end. To say we’re happy with the result would be an understatement. 4.5” of front lift thanks to our Custom Deaver Leaf Springs in the front, 3.0” in the rear and completely custom build and tuned King 2.5” Remote Reservoir shocks ride incredible on the highway and ensure dirt roads are managed with one hand on the wheel. All incidental components are finally available under one kit part number. Brake lines, bump drops, track bar drop, etc. are all included to ensure you’re not left with a truck on the lift only to find you’re needing something else. Sure, some prefer to swap the axle form an 05+ and run a long arm conversion but the capability of this BOLT-ON kit isn’t to be understated. We’ve driven both and went leaf-spring for a reason. This system can be installed in your driveway with a couple buddies, cases of beer and abundant hand tools. Utilitarian meets sex-appeal in a package a monkey could install if only it took the time to read the instructions. The leaf springs keep the truck, geometrically, as factory intended with plenty of additional travel, damping and handling in a truck that’s completely returnable to stock with only a 15% reduction in payload. If that’s a problem, long-travel airbags are available to increase the capacity while allowing adjustability of the rear load!

We can’t go into too much detail on this one yet, but as you can see from the stance, she’s not stock! We’re going to be adding a full line of JK Products. What it will entail, we’re not yet sure but the market will surely tell us if precedent serves us well. To give an idea of where we’re going to start, a Commuter 2.0 and Backcountry 2.0 are the first planned kits. We’re learning this platform as we develop; the first kits we want to offer are bolt-on, minimal modification with huge ride quality and handling benefits. The JK Pictured has our proprietary 2.5” lift springs front and rear, Fox 2.0” IFP shocks (Remote Reservoir Fox 2.0 are next on the list) and a few awesomely innovative geometry correction components like nothing you’ve ever seen. We’re going to keep those behind the curtain until they’re done but stay tuned. We have chassis mounted frame sliders, differential guard and a few other cool things in the works. Share this with your JK friends, they’re about to learn a thing or two about Carli quality!

Back to the Ram world, we’ve spend PLENTY of time grinding control arm mounts off of 2003-12 Ram frames much to our tech’s dismay. Most recently, the guys from Black n’ Blue racing dropped of their MegaCab. If you’re unfamiliar with this build, it’s the truck that took the Short-Arm Unchained System from a race-ready kit to a Championship Holding Suspension System! In their 2006 Ram Mega-Cab, Matt and Team took home the SADR 1450 Trophy for 2015. If he can do that with short arms, we can’t wait to see what he will do with our new Long Arms, 6.25” Shock Towers and 11.25” Travel King 3.5” shocks up front!

The truck was treated to Long-Arms, Bucket Gusseting to reduce fatigue and some track bar reinforcement. She’s a hefty girl, so custom tuning is also in the cards. We’ll post updates on the race season and how the now long-arm equipped truck is holding up as 2016 progresses but we’re all excited to say the least!

Now that we’re discussing top-tier systems, back to the Ford world! Dan treated himself to a new truck and Sage FINALLY got the suspension he deserves. Dan’s 2016 F250 was treated to a bypass-equipped version of the 4.5” Ford Dominator which has been finalized and added to the website. The build was finished with products from Fusion Bumpers, Baja Designs Lighting, American Force Wheels, Monster Hooks, and a Snug Top.

Sage’s already built Super-Duty is now equipped with a Carli Fabricated Front Bumper and 4.5” kit with our 2.5” Coilovers but the mounts were altered to allow a 3-Tube 3.0” Bypass shock up front. The rear of both trucks are equipped with Carli’s fabricated shock mounts and 3.0” 4-Tube Bypasses boasting an oversized rebound tube with Carli tuning and custom tube layout. The Unchained (Dan’s kit, white truck) is listed on the website but; Sage’s is more of a statement truck as there’s not a “need” for the coilover; if we find there’s demand, we’ll list that one as well.

Lastly, some other projects on which we’re working that we’ll discuss more in depth in their own blogs as they progress, Donny Tolson’s 2015 Ram 2500 that will be getting our Cantilever rear and 3.0” Fox Bypasses on all four corners and the 2013+ Ram 3500 4x4 Factory Air-Ride Pintop Kit.

Jump on the freshly updated website and tour around, you won’t be disappointed as there’s a lot to see. As for the last two pictures, stay tuned for more! If there’s anything you want to see more of, shoot us an email and let us know!

April 21, 2016

The Long Drive: Part III - The Final Chapter

My name is Richard Wright and you’re reading the 3rd installment of my dirt road tour of the Western United States during the summer of 2013 in my 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 diesel truck equipped with a Carli Dominator 3” Suspension System, a Torsion Sway Bar, Control Arms, and a set of badly chunked, 35 inch Toyo MTs. In preparation for the long and arduous journey, I installed an electronically locking front differential to compliment the limited slip rear end, fabricated rock sliders for body protection and plate steel bumpers with a 12000lb winch.

This third installment catches up where I left off in Jackson, WY near Grand Teton National Park. During this final stretch of the trip, I explored the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Parks. I then traversed the Canadian Rockies and headed south from Seattle through Washington and Oregon by way of the Cascade Mountain range, followed by covering the most under-appreciated sections of the California Coastline.

Jackson, WY turned out to be just the sort of place I had hoped it to be. After a long and dusty ride, I saddled up to the bar of a local brewery and relished the idea that, for the first time in a while, I’d get to enjoy a real bed for the night. I didn’t foresee the hotel being part of the journey, but it was necessary as it provided me a shipping address to have my new camera delivered. The next day was spent exploring the park at Grand Teton and doing some hiking. It was a beautiful day punctuated with dramatic clouds making for excellent camera fodder. The Tetons are a ruggedly beautiful range; their contrast against the sky and Jenny Lake commands your attention. Early the next morning, I set out for a short hike to get my blood flowing before jumping back into the driver’s seat heading for Yellowstone.

The scenery and the geological features native to Yellowstone are unparalleled. I spent two days exploring, hiking, and swimming in an attempt to discover all that the park had to offer. I hit all the major attractions – Old Faithful, Upper and Lower Geyser Basins, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Upper and Lower Falls, and Mammoth Hot Springs among many others. Some of the most peaceful and beautiful views in the park were in Lamar Valley, off the beaten track. There were a few accessible dirt tracks in the park; however, getting stuck behind sedans diluted the experience.

Upon my exit of the park to the west, I once again found the wilderness to be my own as I escaped the throngs of tourists. I picked my way through the Red Rocks Wildlife refuge and began kicking up a dust storm in my newfound solitude. I slowed to enjoy the scenery as I passed huge flocks of migratory birds floating on nearby lakes and observed small herds of deer and elk in picturesque meadows.

I stopped for a bite to eat in Lima before crossing Hwy 15 to enter the Big Sheep Creek area where I found a place to camp. After catching some shut eye, the morning light revealed my breathtaking surroundings. I found myself grateful to the man who recommended the detour. Surrounded by foothills, I continued along the dirt road as it became a two track following the route of an old wagon freight trail – Old Bannack Road. The only other brave soul making his way across the open country was a fellow on his bicycle who, after graciously accepting a cold beer, told me of his travels. I rolled on and headed to Wisdom, MT to see the “Big Hole”. The vast ranch land valley was surrounded by snow-capped peaks. After lunch, I headed south to return to Lemhi Pass—where Lewis and Clarke had crossed the Continental Divide. The dirt route affords some iconic views and offers a unique location for mental reflection. After a cleansing soak in the hot springs outside Salmon, ID I found what I thought to be a quiet place to camp for the night. Ironically, it happened to be within earshot of the local dirt track raceway. If you can’t beat em’, join em’! I slipped away to spectate until the noise died down.

The next day, I wound my way north through the Bitterroot Mountains toward Missoula and happened across the Darby Lumberjack Days festival. I detoured after deciding to become part of the spectacle rather than pursue my planned route off Hwy 93 toward Elk City. That night, I picked up my brother in Missoula, MT; we shot north toward Kalispell and Glacier National Park.

The first day in Glacier was spent gallivanting around the tourist track—taking the Going-To-The-Sun-Road, hiking aimlessly, attempting to swim in the frigid glacial melt stream that fed St. Mary Lake and Lake McDonald, and acclimating to the sense of awe inspired by our surroundings. We camped west of the park along a dirt road and spent the second day exploring the route to Bowman Lake and another that ended at Whitefish Lake, south of the park. This was the first time my brother experienced “All that is Carli Dominator,” in his own words. He was quite taken aback by the capabilities of the Dodge and my confidence in the truck while searching for the suspension’s limit.

The next day, July 23, we were due to meet up with my family in Calgary, Alberta. They flew in to catch a ride and accompany me through the Canadian Rockies. Given the count of 5 adults, luggage and supplies commensurate to isolated camping; accommodations were tight to say the least. Luggage was shifted to the roof rack and we were off!

The family and I spent 4 days reveling in the beauty of Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise, the ice fields, and everywhere between in an attempt to capture all the Canadian Rockies had to offer. Many years ago, when my father was a college student, he worked as a tour guide in this area for a summer. He surprised us with the notes from years past and gave us the same tour he gave to patrons in the days when he had all his hair. He told us of the original exploration of the area and he was finally able to share the magic of the ice capped peaks and vivid cyan colored lakes with the family.

After dropping the family off at the Calgary airport, my brother and I headed west through the Rockies toward Whistler, Vancouver and British Columbia. We stuck to main roads until passing through Kamloops and Lillooet. We’d made it to Pemberton and hadn’t yet found ourselves lost or eaten by bears so we decided it fit to slow down and do some exploring. We made a few stops as we passed alongside Duffey Lake. We were glad to have stopped at Joffre Lakes Provincial Park for a hike as we’d discovered a hidden gem. The emerald lakes were crowned by glaciated peaks; the sight was captivating. I was compelled to pause and quietly observe the surreal, unadulterated beauty. Further down the road, toward Pemberton, BC we discovered a dirt road headed east, adjacent to the north side of the massive Lillooet Lake. This area was populated so speeds were limited on the washboard road. The lake was awash with glacial silt, shimmering shades of emerald green with the changing light. As we neared Whistler, we opted to explore a couple dirt roads shooting off along rivers; one rewarded our curiosity as it followed a jagged river valley with spectacular views. We spent some time enjoying the summertime atmosphere in Whistler, and then found a place to camp outside Squamish—home to a fantastic railroad museum if you ever find yourself there with time to spare.

The next day, we packed up and made our way south to Vancouver. From there, we took the ferry to Nanaimo (Vancouver Island) and spent the morning exploring the locale. After so much time spent in the wilderness, we weren’t prepared to spend time in the city of Victoria; thus we opted to jump on the Washington State Ferry to Anacortes and try to make it to Deception Pass for sunset. We lucked out on the ferry and the Dodge allotted the front position giving us the best seats in the house to the passage ahead.

We spent the 4 hours of the afternoon atop the truck eating snacks and drinking gin & tonics while floating through the San Juan Islands—some of the most scenic country we’ve encountered. We rushed to Deception Pass and I was rewarded with the opportunity to show my younger brother the amazing structure and surroundings with the last glimpse of the sun on the horizon. We camped that night up a lonely road on a mountain nearby and then eagerly headed south to see my parents knowing that meant a hot shower and home cooked meal.

I spent the next several days in and around home near Tacoma, WA with friends and family. I decided to revisit a favorite old spot, Surprise Lake in the Carbon River watershed near Carbonado, WA. I headed up to the mountains as soon as I had gathered up a group of friends and family. The lake was as beautiful as I remembered and the road leading up the mountain was as fun as ever. Back home, it all felt surreal. The pictures and stories could not do justice to the landscapes I had passed, the experiences I had gained, and the interactions with people along the way. I also realized that preparing for this blog would alter the way I record my travels in the future—the memories flowed freely from the notes, chronology, and landmarks of my journal.

My family had a few days vacation planned around Lake Chelan, WA so I headed east with them, their boat in tow along the way. After a few days on the lake, I packed my bags and headed south along the Cascade Range. This portion of the journey would take me along the Backcountry Discovery Routes through Washington and Oregon. From the south side of Lake Chelan, I traveled on forest roads following the ridges skirting steep river valleys to Cashmere. This was a part of Washington I had never before explored. The views of the Cascades were breathtaking. I passed from the forest-covered Basalt Ridges into the sparse but boundless grasslands as I descended to the east. Here, the planned route was closed so I began to follow an old abandoned two track trail toward the nearest town. I made it down to a disked path alongside a farmer’s fence and continued toward town until I experienced the first mechanical failure of the trip—a sheared Tie Rod End. Where the truck broke, I made my camp and decided the fix was my first order of business in the morning.

The next day, with a pot of coffee in my belly, a new TRE installed, and a highly accurate dirt-backed, tape measured alignment performed, the Dodge and I made our way to Ellensburg, WA and began another ascent into the Cascades. I returned to the basalt outcroppings and timber lined ridges as I navigated the forest roads that carried me around Naches to Hwy 12 and to Packwood, WA. From Packwood, I headed toward one of my favorite campsites near Mt. Saint Helens. This is the one place I shall not name in this tail as this camp site is near-sacred to me. I will however share the photograph of the view:

If you are travelling in this area, do not miss the hike through the Ape Cave lava tube, nor the Mt. Saint Helens viewpoint at the Windy Ridge Vista. The raw power of nature is rarely made as evident as it is in the geological alteration resulting from the aftermath of the eruption accompanied by the rebirthed ecosystem that has since inhabited the landscape. I spent the next day revisiting these favorite spots, then traveled east and met up with some very interesting folks at Horseshoe Lake, just north of Mt. Adams. My new Dutch friends had spent the last 18 months traveling north; their journey began in Argentina. Their weapon of choice was a Volvo 6x6 overland conversion that started life as a retired, surplus ambulance. The vehicle made a journey across the Atlantic in a container once the build was completed in the Netherlands.

From Horeshoe Lake, I headed south, taking a forest road between Mt. Adams and Mt. Saint Helens toward Mt. Hood. These roads are extremely unpredictable, overgrown forest roads, but those brave enough to venture are rewarded with unique sights hidden beneath the forest canopy and picturesque mountain views through brief clearings. There is a main graded dirt road; however, what is an adventure without the unexpected; without taking the road less traveled? My DeLorme atlas and Trimble Outdoors Navigator helped me pick my way through. The Carli Dominator kit did the rest soaking up every massive pothole along the way and keeping the truck from becoming a pile of scrap wrapped around a tree.

Once I made it to White Salmon, WA, I stuck to the highway as I headed south for a couple hours until reaching Sisters, Oregon. South, from outside Sisters, I followed a series of forest roads that I compiled by studying Forest Service maps that afternoon after finding my original route to be a single-track trail. The dirt road transits the majority of the distance between Sisters and Crater Lake boasting scenic views of Mt. Hood, the Sisters and Mt. Bachelor. The series of dirt roads started flat and fast, then transitioned into a quick roller coaster route through the pines. The second stage passes through the Crane Prairie Reservoir, past the Little Cultus Lake, then runs between and alongside both Irish and Taylor Lakes—the premier boondock campsite location to wrap up the day.

The next morning started in what appeared to be a post-apocalyptic burned forest through which I traveled to Waldo Lake. This connected to the Central Oregon Cascade Route starting from the south end of Crescent Lake and followed a fast paced, rutted and pot hole covered track to Summit Lake. After a cleansing swim, I hopped back into the truck to follow the forest roads south toward Diamond Lake in pursuit of my daily adrenaline fix. I then made a pass around the deep, blue waters of Crater Lake and checked another National Park off my list. I had to hustle from here as I was due to pick up Anthony, an old friend, at the Medford airport that evening. No hurry, however, would force me to bypass the Rogue River Trail and the Natural Bridge. After the pickup in Medford, we made our way down Hwy 199 toward Crescent City and found a nice hidden turnout to use as a campsite. We needed rest as the next day would be a full one.

We set out of Crescent City headed south on Hwy 1 toward the Redwood National and State Parks and the Lost Coast. After a bit of traipsing through the giant Redwoods, we became serious about the task at hand and pressed on! We passed through Ferndale into the isolated beauty of the Lost Coast—for the remainder of the day. It was as though we passed through a time warp as we beheld the pre-development, unmolested California coastline. The Lost Coast Loop is a well-defined, albeit under-utilized, scenic route but we chose a road less traveled. Near the hamlet of Honeydew, there is an extremely technical, high risk (provided you cannot help but yield to your need for speed) forest road that carries you south along the coastline, up and down ravines, then along the coastal ridgeline.

Anthony—my passenger—is another Cal Poly Mechanical Engineer with an educational background in chassis design and suspension performance analysis. Further, he is a part of the track-day scene and is familiar with off-road shenanigans. He couldn’t help but comment on his impression of the Carli Dominator system’s ability to keep the truck planted and predictable—“the amount of punishment it can absorb while controlling chassis dynamics is phenomenal”.

The next destination was Usal Beach. This forgotten stretch of sand hosts one of the most remarkable combinations of forest, meadow and Pacific Coast I have ever seen. All three times I have had the pleasure of exploring the Sinkyone Wilderness State Park, I have encountered herds of elk, enjoyed brilliant sunsets tranquil enough to assist the beer in calming my adrenaline saturated nerves, only to be lulled to sleep by the sound of crashing waves. Usal Beach is not one to be missed.

The next day we cruised at what felt to be a leisurely pace down Pacific Coast Highway while taking in the scenery. This proved to be a welcomed departure from the heightened focus and careful attention required on the Lost Coast’s forlorn forest roads. Late in the afternoon, we arrived in San Francisco and reconnected with some old friends. After a couple days of debauchery, hot showers and meals eaten with real utensils, I dropped Anthony at home in Santa Cruz and I hit the road once more, headed south. This time my aim was Big Sur and the forest roads in Los Padres National Forest. Once again, I was immersed in the natural glory unique to the Pacific Coastline. After stops at the usual Big Sur destinations, I reached my forest road intersection—Naciamento Ferguson Road. At the summit of this stretch of asphalt, there is an intersection with the Coast Ridge Trail. The main trail that parallels the coastline to the south is a fast, well-graded forest road that offers fantastic sightlines and disastrous consequences if you are hauling ass and get off line. The side roads that descend either side of the ridge either dead-end to the west at magnificent vistas or they descend to the east and into Fort Hunter Ligget. The dispersed camping at Alder Creek offers the most sheltered camp but the best view is at the end of Los Burros Spur Rd. It’s imperative to walk the last steep descent to help evaluate if the conditions are suitable to ascend after you break camp. This camp offers my favorite panoramic view of the California coastline; even cloud cover can’t mask its beauty. If you decide to camp in Alder Creek, be certain to ascend the hilltop along the Spur Road to catch the sunset.

The Coast Ridge Trail descends and returns to Hwy 1. I followed Pacific Coast Highway through the scenic San Simeon-Cayucos corridor and brought my 11,000 some mile journey to a close and returned to work in San Luis Obispo.

A journey of this length and scope doesn’t only create memories that will last a lifetime; this journey molded and cultivated my sense of adventure. The brief time I was able to spend in each of these places seared iconic images into my mind, created an insatiable wanderlust to further explore the beauty, the grandeur, and the fragility of the natural world, and will ultimately compel me to return to many of these unforgettable places.

Click HERE to read the the second installment of this cross-continental journey.

Click HERE to read the the first installment of this cross-continental journey.