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Old 10-13-2016, 01:00 PM   #1
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Considering picking up a 6.9 or 7.3 IDI truck as a tow pig...

My current truck is a 2005 Ram 1500 with the Hemi. I absolutely LOVE this truck, but being a 1/2 ton shortbed, it's really not suited to hauling my 12 foot Amerigo camper. I also want to tow my Suzuki Samurai on a trailer along with hauling the camper, so I know I'm in the "need a bigger truck" category here Yes, I know this will likely involve a hitch extender, and the drop in towing capacity that comes along with it. I'm pretty sure the tongue on my trailer is long enough that I won't need much of an extender, if any at all, but it's still something to be aware of (I hand built the trailer myself, and intentionally installed a longer than normal tongue on it for this reason, knowing I'd eventually get a truck camper somewhere down the road).

I've decided that I absolutely want a dually for this, and probably should be looking at diesels, or at least big block equipped gas trucks. I likely don't NEED a dually for this, but I do want to future proof myself a bit this time in case I do have a heavier haul need at some point.

I started looking at newer trucks, and just can't stomach dropping 25K+ on a truck that realistically is only going to get used a couple dozen times a year right now (I work 50+ hours a week still, so I figure I'd be looking at going camping twice a month on weekends, max. Even if I wanted to go more often, it's just not realistic right now). I have two other daily drivers that get better mileage than even the new diesel trucks, and are far cheaper to maintain. Plus, after having driven big trucks commercially for a while, I'm not fond of driving a dually every day through the city

Even dropping down some years, the owners of the Cummins and Powerstroke trucks are asking some serious money for those trucks...some times even more than what I could get a newer truck for. Not to mention that a lot of these trucks have 350K+ miles on them. I know the motors will hold up long term, but the rest of the truck around the motor is still going to fall apart at the same rate. It's not like the diesel trucks got better seats and interiors than the gas trucks...

I noticed that the Ford 6.9 and 7.3 IDI trucks have gotten to be dang near dirt cheap, and it's appealing. I know they're not going to be as quiet, comfortable, or powerful as the newer stuff and likely not going to get the same MPGs. But would they realistically haul a 3K pound camper, and tow up to 8K behind the truck OK? I live in Phoenix, and thus will have some mountain grades to contend with occasionally as well.
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Old 10-13-2016, 07:07 PM   #2
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Look for a Powerstroke, better power and the first years are cheap now.
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Old 10-13-2016, 07:11 PM   #3
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All the 6.9L indirect-injection (IDI) and almost all the 7.3 IDI diesel engines are now antiques (25+ years old). Even when they were still youngsters, they didn't make a big splash in the serious enthusiast world. The Direct Injection (DI) PowerStroke engine changed all that, beginning in the early 1990s. By the time the new body style 1999 SuperDuty pickups were introduced, the enthusiast crowd was right there, clamoring to own a PowerStroke engine. Order and wait times stretched out to months. Some waited almost a year before their new PowerStroke was delivered.

I waited for over a year before I even ordered mine. I wanted to be sure most of the bugs were worked out of the new SuperDuty trucks with the PowerStroke engine. Sure enough, Ford began building the '99.5 version of the SuperDuty PowerStroke before mine was delivered. I finally got it in June, 1999.

Several very bright and dedicated folks joined the Ford Diesel discussion group, and it later was converted to Ford-Diesel.com. Lots of articles and how-tos were written and published on Ford-Diesel.com. Ford soon tired of the growth of unofficial Ford-Diesel.com and made the owner change the name. He chose TheDieselStop.com and the rest is history.

So today if you log onto TheDieselStop.com, you will find some information about the IDI engines, and you will find a wealth of info about the 7.3L PowerStroke engines. (I've been a moderator on that website since it was still Ford-Diesel.com back in 1999.)
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Old 10-13-2016, 07:55 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by SmokeyWren View Post
they didn't make a big splash in the serious enthusiast world. The Direct Injection (DI) PowerStroke engine changed all that, beginning in the early 1990s. By the time the new body style 1999 SuperDuty pickups were introduced, the enthusiast crowd was right there, clamoring to own a PowerStroke engine. Order and wait times stretched out to months. Some waited almost a year before their new PowerStroke was delivered.
That enthusiast market is exactly the problem....I'm not paying 20K for a nearly 20 year old truck with 350K+ miles on it just because all these fan boys think they have an indestructible semi truck motor, or so I can say that I have a diesel. Especially not for something that might only see 1,000 miles a year from me, and is going to be spending far more time sitting in the barn than on the road. I'll throw down another 10K and go buy a new truck at that point.

I'm not looking at these as a cheap entry into the diesel crowd. I'm just looking at options that won't cost a bundle for something that will rarely be driven. I don't need to pull grades at 80mph like all these guys with the new trucks do around here, I just don't want to be the guy holding up a mile of traffic because I'm down in 1st gear pulling 15mph.
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Old 10-14-2016, 12:29 AM   #5
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We hauled a '92 11.5 Caribou on a '89 5 speed W250 single rear wheel Dodge Cummins flat towing first a Samurai and then a '92 Tracker from '93 until last year when we bought a MH. When I sold the combo the truck had 286k miles on it, and I would not have hesitated to start out for anywhere in the country with it. The TC combo weighted 11,000 lbs (camper was about 4,300 of that).

I built the hitch extension and could provide some info about how I did it if you would like.

Why would you chose to trailer the Sami instead of 4 down towing it?

Personally, I would choose a Cummins from the mid '90s, but my son has a couple of the pre-power stroke 7.3 Ford turbo diesels and likes them. IMHO, the Cummins was much less cluttered and easier to work on.

We got 16 mpg staying below 60 mph with just the camper, 15 mpg at 70 mph, and 13.5-14 mpg with the camper and toad at 70 mph. It got 18-23 mpg empty, depending on speed (18 at 80-85 and I got a ticket on I 20 in Texas doing that). I loved the rig and would still have it, but my wife wanted something different.

Best of luck with the choice.

Steve
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Old 10-14-2016, 10:32 AM   #6
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There are lots of these out there https://www.carsforsale.com/vehicle/details/22376357
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Old 10-15-2016, 05:44 PM   #7
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6.9 and 7.3 idi are gutless. IMO you will not like the towing experience with a camper and trailer.
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Old 10-15-2016, 06:16 PM   #8
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7.3 & 6.0 Adequate power

Having owned both a 2001 F250 7.3 PS with 6 spd std trans and a 2004 6.0l F350 King Ranch I can vouch for the adequate power of either one. Those who do only paper comparisons will disagree. The 7.3 I sold to son-in-law and he is still driving it and pulling a 30' 5th wheel. I used the King Ranch to pull a 36' 5th wheel with a 18' boat and trailer behind that. All my pulls were through the Rockies into B.C. and I had no desire to go faster than speed limit when loaded. Neither unit held up traffic.
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Old 10-16-2016, 01:11 PM   #9
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IMHO, I was not very impressed by the 6.9, especially low end torque which would be important when starting out with a load. I drove several of these at work during the time I was using the '69 F250 4X4 I put the 6-354 Perkins diesel in. The Perkins wasn't the most powerful engine on the planet, but I would still prefer it over the 6.9.

My son has a F 250 and F 350, both with the 7.3 turbo. I have driven both and was favorably impressed with them. Personally I would prefer a manual transmission because the automatic seems to be a weak link, at least with his. The same was true for the '96 Dodge Cummins he had.

All that being said, I would still prefer a Cummins, especially if you plan to maintain it. Just look under the hood of a Cummins and then a Ford/Chev. diesel powered rig.

Just my 2c.

Steve
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Old 10-18-2016, 03:50 PM   #10
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Why would you chose to trailer the Sami instead of 4 down towing it?
Ever tried to 4 down tow something with a broken axle housing? Broken main leaf springs? Mangled steering components? A couple of flat tires?

All of these have happened to me on trail runs, and all of which would have made flat towing extremely difficult, if not impossible.
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Old 10-19-2016, 02:24 PM   #11
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Ever tried to 4 down tow something with a broken axle housing? Broken main leaf springs? Mangled steering components? A couple of flat tires?

All of these have happened to me on trail runs, and all of which would have made flat towing extremely difficult, if not impossible.
I guess we never used our Sammi that way, although it was no stranger to the woods and bad roads. A trailer would make perfect sense in your case. Ours was such a perfect little 4 down toad I just wondered.

Best of luck with the choice of trucks.

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