Cooper STT PRO first rotation review

Cooper STT PRO LT295/65R20 after the first 2,381 miles.

Research the STT PRO here: Cooper Discoverer STT PRO

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Cooper Tire




Factor 55 Rope Retention Pulley, RRP.

Factor 55’s, Rope Retention Pulley, RRP, first look at the 2019 SEMA Show.

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James Langan

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Factor 55


Factor 55 HitchLink And FlatLink MultiMount

Trilogy of Factor 55 FlatLinks.

The founder and man at the helm of Factor 55 is an engineer with an aerospace background who creates and tests everything right here in the USA, at Boise, Idaho. Factor 55 continues to design and manufacture what are arguably the best Closed System Winching™ and recovery products available. Cutting-corners, and making stuff cheaper or offshore is not an option.

Filling the Pack Mule’s two hitch receivers on the front Buckstop Truckware bumper are two Factor 55 HitchLink 2.0 recovery shackle mounts to facility vehicle recoveries. Key features include:

– Using a receiver as a recovery or tow point

– Lightweight precision CNC machined 6,000 series aluminum

– Weighs only 1.9 pounds. Steel versions weigh up to 8 pounds

– Rated at 9,500 pounds

– Ultimate failure at 51,000 pounds

– Fits standard 2-inch receivers

– Fits common ¾” screw pin shackles/D-Rings

– Anodized or powder coated for oxidation protection

– $80

Two HitchLink 2.0 for the receivers on the Buckstop front bumper.
Warn EPIC D-shackle in a Factor 55 HitchLink 2.0 to facilitate Closed System Winching™. Secured with a BOLT Lock.

Oscar The Pack Mule retains the factory Ram 2.5” receiver in the rear, so for the first time I am able to use Factor 55’s HitchLink 2.5 product in the back. Additional features of the HitchLink 2.5 include:

– Will accept both ¾” and 7/8” shackles

– Can be oriented inside the receiver, vertical or horizontal, depending on need

– Eliminates a receiver sleeve to downsize and downgrade a receiver to 2”

– Rated at 18,000 pounds, with Ultimate Failure at 69,000 pounds

– $120

HitchLink 2.5 for 2.5” hitch receivers, is rated for working loads of 18,000 pounds.

The FlatLink MultiMount ($200) was introduced at the 2017 SEMA Show, but it took me one year to add this fantastic winch line shackle mount to the end the Pack Mule’s Warn synthetic rope. With few exceptions, the hooks supplied with otherwise top-quality winches have been substandard since the introduction of recreational self-recovery winches. According to Factor 55, many are only rated for a working load of 4,000 pounds and will fail around 16-18,000 pounds, though some let go as early as 11,000 pounds. Yikes! (The EPIC Hook on my Warn M16.5ti-S was rated for 18k.)

FlatLink MultiMount allows winch pulls from two directions.

All of Factor 55’s shackle mounts correct the common hook deficiency, while also facilitating Closed System Winching™ techniques for additional safety. My MultiMount was ordered with the optional Rope Guard ($50), which protects the synthetic rope from impacts, abrasions, and UV exposure. Features unique to the FlatLink MultiMount include:

– Designed for difficult off-camber vehicle recovery scenarios, where two different winch pull directions are often necessary

– Oval Hole opening connects to the pin ends of 7/8” and 1” screw-pin shackles

– Two additional shackle pin-mounting holes provide secure shackle attachment points for multiple pull directions. The center hole provides a secure conventional center pull shackle mount point eliminating shackle side-loading forces at the MultiMount interface

– Winching with a bridle arrangement is possible by using the two outer shackle pin mounting holes in combination with common bridle rigging

– The MultiMount may be folded flat against fairlead surfaces when stowed, resulting in minimal impact to vehicle approach angles

– Maximum Load: 16,000 pounds

– Ultimate Strength: 40,000 pounds

All Factor 55’s winch shackle mounts are designed to fit snug against winch fairleads and avoid the damage often caused by traditional hooks and rigging.

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James Langan

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Factor 55

Hellwig Big Wig Rear Sway Bar

Big Wig bar diameter is noticeably larger than the OE anti-roll bar.

Hellwig Big Wig Anti-Roll Bar

Both my Fourth Generation Ram/Cummins 2500s have been frequently or constantly loaded to their Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR), and the stock suspensions and chassis have impressed me with their ability to handle maximum loads, including the factory rear stabilizer bar’s ability to tame body-roll. However, when pushing the limits of ratings, sometimes a little help from the aftermarket can increase handling performance, safety, and improve our driving experience. My choice was a heavy-duty, adjustable, rear stabilizer bar from Hellwig Products; they call it the Big Wig (part #7306, $570). Hellwig makes another rear bar for late-model Rams; however, I wanted the stoutest one for my loads.

All parts and fasteners were included with the Big Wig bar.

Hellwig knows more than a little about suspension products, they’ve been doing it since 1946, remain a family-owned-and-operated company, and still manufacture their products in Visalia, California, with American-made steel. They make steel helper springs, anti-roll (sway) bars, and air springs. Back in the early 1980s I purchased my first sway-bar product from Hellwig, for a VW Bug, which also lowered the front of the car. (I’ve not lowered a vehicle since.)

Mounting the Big Wig was easy, similar to changing shocks on a Fourth Generation Ram. After assembling a few bits, and properly adjusting the end links, it’s simply a matter of removing the factory bar and mounting the Big Wig in its place. All the parts and fasteners needed are included, and the written instructions are clear. Hellwig gets extra points for above average photos that are bright, and separately securing both the heavy bar and small box of parts inside the large shipping box, avoiding common strewn bits, box failures, or parts damage.

Using the factory bar to measure and adjust the length of the much beefier Hellwig bar ends.
Bar end bushings were pressed-in with a bench vise using the lube provided.

The Big Wig bar is substantially larger than the factory piece, and its shape provides plenty of clearance for my Mag-Hytec rear differential cover. Hellwig recommends starting at the outer, rear-most bar-end mounting hole, which is the softest setting, and moving to the two more firm holes, if desired after adjusting to the vehicle’s new handling characteristics. Because of my maximum load, I went straight to the firmest position.

Installation completed and ready for a road test.
Using the firmest, most forward hole. Zero clearance concerns near the tailpipe on the passenger side.

Does It Work?

From the beginning of my first test, there was a noticeable reduction in body roll, and overall improved stability and control. It does not turn a heavy truck into a sports car, but it was a great improvement. I made detailed notes during my initial drives which included the following Big Wig attributes:

-Limits how much roll occurs; the performance is somewhat similar to a better shock absorber. With the factory bar, after the initial body roll, there would be added oscillation and wiggle before the chassis returned to neutral after the disturbing force ended. The Big Wig stops the roll sooner and then holds the chassis more firmly until centering occurs.

– Very noticeable difference on 75-mph freeway sweepers; much less body roll.

– In high winds, control was much improved; this should reduce driver fatigue.

– Slow speed roll was also limited, including when entering and exiting driveways.

These were substantial improvements, but it is even more impressive when one remembers my custom Hallmark cabover camper, several hundred pounds of tools and recovery gear, bumper, winch, and 35-inch-tall tires. The Big Wig works, is worth the money, and I’m considering adding Hellwig’s front bar also.

Glad I finally added the Big Wig. Fits and works well.

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James Langan

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Hellwig Products

Big Ass Fans AirEye Pedestal Fan

For years I’ve been casually looking for a good fan for my shop. There are many inexpensive ones, from under $100 to a several hundred, but less than a handful that look like they would last long or work well.

At the 2018 SEMA Show I found the Big Ass Fans display near closing time on Thursday. This particular fan, the AirEye Pedestal Fan, is $900 shipped (you assemble), and has a seven year warranty! I was impressed.

This Lexington, Kentucky, company also makes large industrial fans, like the one above in my video, which has a 15 year warranty (if I remember correctly).

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Big Ass Fans




Diesel Brothers Legion Cooper Tires SEMA Show 2018

At the 2018 SEMA Show, the Diesel Brothers introduced their new Legion tire brand, a collaboration with Cooper Tires.

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SK Professional Tools, 49-piece, 3/8-drive socket set

Sometimes the answer is right under our nose.

SK 94549, SAE and metric, standard and deep socket set.

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SK Professional Tools