Why the title?

"Pioneers take the arrows"

Oh, wait. I should be upbeat and taking arrows doesn't sound like an upbeat thing to say.

So, let me amend that statement.

It was courage and vision that led the pioneers to leave behind a comfortable, settled life and trek West to begin a new life in a new place. Many of those from the East that went West found a strength within themselves that they didn't see while they were in their old life. Instead of being one of those that just kind of went along with the others in the old life, they became leaders and visionaries in their new lives.

The sentiments of that last paragraph come from a favorite author, Louis L'Amour, in many of his books. So, I can't really say that it is an original thought from me. However, what he said is truthful.

Welcome to being a pioneer. Look ahead and ignore the "barking dogs" that give you negative opinions and comments. Louis L'Amour also spoke of the barking dogs.

In some of his stories, it was usually a father or older man telling a young boy how it was that when the Westward bound Conestoga wagons rolled through towns, the dogs came out to bark at them. His character then told the young listener that the barking didn't stop the wagons from going on to their destinations.

Following the advice of the Louis L'Amour characters, may we all forge ahead with our plans, after carefully considering all consequences and leave the "barkers" behind.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Considering Trucks (The Other Warring Subject)

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.



  1. Thanks for sharing. Discussing trucks is like discussing religion or politics - especially with RVers. I'm not a Ford basher and I am looking for good info. While I still prefer Ford trucks, I am just not convinced it is a reliable choice. Just when I think it would be OK to get a Ford diesel, I read another blog about problems with the engine. Can you offer any explanation why the engine oil cooler seems to be such a problem? Thanks Terri, I value your opinion.

  2. Jerry/Carol,

    I guess I just haven't heard anything on Ford's oil coolers. I just know that of those that post on the RV forums, I seldom hear of problems with the F450 and its engine. But, they just may not want to post.

    If it is any help to you, check out this forum:


    Keep in mind that all forums have a tendency to receive comments from those having problems. You seldom hear from those with no problems.

  3. Terry
    You are right about truck opinions. I also chose an F450 and I get riddiculed constantly. I am a traitor because I retired from GM. I wanted to buy a GM product because of my discount but GM did not make anything in the class of the F450. Thier 3500 series was only rated to pull 20,000 for a fifth wheel. With my Mobile Suites I wanted a little bit more cushion for safety. So far I love my choice.
    Safe Travels

  4. Dave and Maxine,

    Never consider yourself a traitor. I don't want to start a political issue with this, but GM has proven to be the traitor. First, their management was obviously bad enough to need the bailout. Second, they took the bailout. Third, with one commercial, Whitaker (the CEO at the time) bragged about paying back ahead of time and with full interest. They had actually used OTHER bailout money to pay back the amount that they did. The TARP official overseeing those funds even confirmed what GM had done.

    In regards to the third affect, basically a lie, the American taxpayer is still on the hook for GM even after what payback they have done and with their IPO. They had taken around $50 Billion from the government and all of that has NOT be returned to the government.

    I hate to be a weight policeman, but anyone who chooses a truck that may not handle the weight of their RV is being reckless with everyone's safety. Their own and other folks on the road.

    So, from me "WAY TO GO ON CHOOSING A SUITABLE TRUCK." There's an "atta-boy" for you.


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