As with most others, I’ve long heard that the two most warring topics have been religion and politics, and that if you didn’t want hard feelings flying around, you avoided those topics. Well, to that short list let’s add one more: truck brands. (In honesty, that could apply to any motor vehicle.)
Why did I choose the Ford F450 as the tow vehicle for our RV? Initially, it was seeing that Howard Payne (of RV Dreams) had chosen that as his tow vehicle. Before that, I doubt if I even considered that a 450/4500 series truck would come in a pickup style. As time went on and I spent more time on RV forums, I came to see that a sizable number of folks had also chosen the F450.
Now, before I go any further, let it be known that I have driven everything from motorcycles to 18-wheelers. I’ve owned or driven most every brand of American brand vehicle and a few foreign ones. Shoot…I’ve even worked as a used car salesman (well, there went my reputation) and have had a chance to drive some “IN” cars. Most of those were overrated from my point of view.
Speaking of my point of view, let’s set some basic parameters. When I grew up in the Oklahoma Panhandle, what many now use as a tow vehicle were called “pickups” and anything bigger was a truck. Now, since I’ve been citified, I find myself occasionally referring to my F450 as a truck. And, I guess that technically it is since it is a 450 series and listed as a Class 4 truck (according to Wikipedia).
Working in agriculture (farming and ranching), I’ve been involved with driving all kinds of trucks and pickups. In the range of pickups, most were half-tons and consisted of Jeep, International, GMC, Ford, and Chevrolet. I’ve personally owned one Chevrolet, one GMC, and one Ford while on the farm. Then after trading off the 2000 Chevy, they have all been Fords.
The GMC was bought used and the transmission NEVER did work right. Less than a month after purchase, it would barely pull itself, let alone a farm trailer of any kind. The dealership had it for a whole month and finally gave up and put in a reconditioned transmission. After picking it up, I drove it back to the farm (50 miles away), pulled up to the house, put it in park and turned off the engine. It then proceeded to roll backwards about 3 feet. I got out and pushed it even further. I never took it back for more work on the transmission. While I had it, I simply used the parking brake since the parking pawl in the transmission failed. (That was when I was wishing I had kept the 1966 Ford that I had bought at a farm auction.
I traded the GMC in 1980 for a brand new Chevrolet 4 speed with 4 wheel drive. It had the 350 engine and everyone and their dog told me that was the “best” engine ever. At 17,000 miles the lobes on the camshaft began to wear down and flatten out. The dealer wouldn’t warranty any part of either parts or labor. So, a practically brand new pickup cost me an additional $1000. I kept that pickup for about 10 years, even after we moved to the city. At about 60,000 miles that 350 then needed an overhaul. I’ve been pretty well insistent on changing oil every 3000 miles. (Even now, with our Mariner saying it can go 7500 miles between oil changes, I can’t go that long. First oil change was after 5000. That’s about all I’ll compromise.)
In the ‘90’s we went a spell of leasing our vehicles here in Oklahoma City. With one of the Red Carpet leases, you had three options at the end of the lease. Trade for another Ford, buy the one you were just leasing, or return it and walk away. With that in mind, we knew that we would probably be limited to Fords. So I sat down and thought about our past vehicles. Of all the ones we had owned, we had fewer problems with the Fords. The Chevrolet, Buick, Oldsmobile, GMC, and Dodge products always gave us more problems.
When we began researching the trucks, the 2008 F450 impressed me with its gross combined vehicular weight at 33,000 lbs. and the rear differential ratio at 4:88. When I drove 18-wheelers, the best pulling truck I drove had a Cummins 335, a two-stick 4X4 transmission and 5:29 ratio rear ends. More than once someone came on the CB and accused me of running empty when I was gaining speed going up hills. From that experience, I knew that the 4:88 ratio Ford rear differentials would be a better puller than the 4:30 rear differential. Since we plan to be in the mountains quite a bit, better pulling power is important to us.
As I wrote elsewhere, we stumbled into the F450 that we have. I had really expected that we would have to buy a brand new one since most F450’s in this area are “ridden hard and put up wet.” Finding a low mileage (46,000 miles) used 2008 for under $35,000 was a very pleasant find. While I’ve driven a lot of diesels on the farm and over the road, this is my first diesel in the form of a pickup. It is a pure joy to drive it when I get the chance, which is about once a week.
The one time that we’ve hauled the Mobile Suites for any distance was to Carthage, Missouri back in October for a mini-rally. I was impressed with the truck’s ability with that heavy of a trailer. While our old F250 towing the 26-foot Rockwood felt like it was always straining to tow it, the F450 seemed to not even know it had a trailer behind it. It was very easy pulling and very stable in handling.
While I still have a lot to learn about the diesel pickup/trucks, the biggest learning curve will be the Tow/Haul capability of the transmission. I need to question some folks about the function of the Tow/Haul. From what I am reading, it appears that I may not need to be in Tow/Haul unless I’m towing in the hills or mountains. That’s another question for the forums.
Now that you know why we chose the Ford F450, I realize that a lot of others would prefer their GM or Dodge products, particularly because of the Cummins engines and Allison transmissions. Hey, that is all good for them. While everyone raves about their drive-train choices, I still remember that everyone back in 2000 always raved about that GM 350 engine as well. Every brand has their problems and I recognize that. We used to say in the used car business that even Rolls Royce had service departments.
Hopefully, with some proper care and regular maintenance, we will all have many years of use from our choices of truck and RV’s.
October 2010 Suites Owner’s International Travel Club mini-rally at Carthage, Missouri with 18 different DRV Suites rigs in attendance. This is our Mobile Suite.