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Old 11-02-2011, 03:17 PM   #1
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Need some towing help

I drive a 2006 E350 diesel 6.0L with turbo, super springs, blah, blah, blah. I need a people hauler because we have 5 little ones.

We drove 1000mi to pick up our just purchased 2008 Keystone Sprinter 311bhs. The Beast, as we call our van, did great as long as the temps were in the 60's or less. Then, we hit some upper 80's and The Beast was struggling. It never completely overheated (although it only has glorified idiot lights- to be replaced with real sensors IF we keep it); the fan stayed on and we stopped several times to let it cool off. I can't only tow in the winter!

Aside from the van running hot, there was more sway than I was comfortable with. We have the Equalizer 4pt hitch rated to 12K lbs. The trailer was pretty much empty- maybe 200lbs of stuff we had in the van for the drive to get it, tanks empty. Every time a bigger vehicle passed us, it felt like the rear end of the trailer was being sucked into the passing lane. I tried driving for about 2miles, white knuckles the whole way...I finally came to an exit and made my husband drive the rest of the way home. I've been told it was probably a weight distribution problem and would probably be improved if we had more weight on the hitch end.

So, here are my questions:
1) Considering the size of the tt and the size of our family, what tow vehicle would you recommend?

2) Do you think the suction sway action I experienced was a weight problem or is that moderately normal for such a long tt?

3) Would we be better off with a motor home of some sort of toad?

Driving a separate vehicle is not an option. We need to all ride together...we just need to figure out the best way to do that.
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Old 11-02-2011, 04:06 PM   #2
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Do you have anti-sway bars attached? Made a big difference when I was pulling my TT. See here: Motorhome Supplies and Camper Parts : RV Surge Protector : RV Accessories : Blue Ox Baseplates : RV Store : Motorhome Covers - RVUpgradeStore.com There is no way that I would tow w/out them!

I just made the move, last month, from TT to MH. I am glad that I did! Love my MH. However, you just purchased your TT and it wouldn't make sense to sell it yet.

You might also have someone, who is experienced in TT's, do a ride-along with you to see/feel what is going on.

Sheila
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Old 11-02-2011, 04:59 PM   #3
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6.0L Ford diesels have had problems with clogged cooling systems--suggest you have a professional flush, and possibly install a coolant filter.
For the sway, check out the ProPride hitch--you will never have sway again if you use one.
Is your van one of the 15-passenger with the long rear overhang?
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Old 11-02-2011, 09:45 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maconswife View Post
I drive a 2006 E350 diesel 6.0L with turbo,
GCWR with 3.55 rear axle ratio = 16,000 pounds.

GCWR with 4.10 axle ratio = 20,000 pounds.

Quote:
... 2008 Keystone Sprinter 311bhs.
GVWR = 11,020 pounds.

Quote:
The Beast, as we call our van, did great as long as the temps were in the 60's or less. Then, we hit some upper 80's and The Beast was struggling. It never completely overheated (although it only has glorified idiot lights- to be replaced with real sensors IF we keep it); the fan stayed on and we stopped several times to let it cool off. I can't only tow in the winter!
I suspect you have the 3.55 rear axle, so you were overloaded. Plus you didn't mention speed, but speed makes a huge difference in wind drag.

For that van to drag an 11,000-pound TT, you need the 4.10 axle ratio and slow down to about 60 to 62 MPH for highway crusiing. Plus you need a tranny temp gauge and it wouldn't hurt anything to also have a coolant temp gauge and an oil temp gauge.

Lots of folks love their diesel Ford vans for towing a TT, but an 11,000-pound TT is way up there at the upper limits of what the van was designed to tow. But spend the money for the ring gear and pinion, plus the gauges and you'll probably fall in love with your tow vehicle.

Here's a source for the 4.10 ratio ring gear and pinion:
www.ringpinion.com

Here's my favorite source to buy ISSPRO gauges:
www.dieselmanor.com

Quote:
Aside from the van running hot, there was more sway than I was comfortable with.
Easy fix, but not cheap. Get rid of your cheap hitch and invest in a ProPride or Hensley Arrow hitch.
Trailer Sway Control Hitch Guaranteed to Eliminate Trailer Sway - ProPride 3P


Quote:
1) Considering the size of the tt and the size of our family, what tow vehicle would you recommend?
Keep the van, but invest in rear axle ratio, gauges, and no-sway hitch.

Quote:
2) Do you think the suction sway action I experienced was a weight problem or is that moderately normal for such a long tt?
Equal-I-Zer hitch is not intended to handle such a rig. Go for the ProPride and your sway problems are over.

Quote:
3) Would we be better off with a motor home of some sort of toad? Driving a separate vehicle is not an option. We need to all ride together...we just need to figure out the best way to do that.
Affordability is the big problem. I could get by with the van and TT with the investment of only a few thousand for differential work, gauges, and no-sway hitch. The diesel pusher motorhome/toad combo would cost tens of thousands more. Last week I saw a nice 1997 diesel pusher with less than 90,000 miles for $50k. But $50k for a 14-year-old motor home is still a whole lot more than you have invested in the van. I hope.
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Old 11-02-2011, 11:31 PM   #5
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Adding to the already good advice;
What are your van tires rated? You should have Load Range E , LT tires, inflated to sidewall maximum when towing that heavy a trailer. Lighter tires ride better, but are not designed for towing heavy loads, they allow the van to roll on the tires, even when inflated to sidewall maximum.
The Ford E350 15 passenger van is noted for roll-overs because of light tires. That pdf document is very informative. You may do an internet search using the same terms to find many pages of roll-over information.
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Old 11-03-2011, 08:22 AM   #6
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Just my 2 cents' worth - if you could find a clean Ford Excursion with the 7.3L diesel, it would certainly be worth considering. They are excellent tow vehicles for those with large families. Unfortunately, more and more people are realizing that, so good ones don't stay on the market very long, and they aren't cheap.

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Old 11-03-2011, 01:24 PM   #7
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Thank you for all the wonderful information. You guys (and gals) are the best!

I'll pass this along to my husband as most of this is waaaay over my head! lol. The only question asked that I can answer is speed- I stayed between 50 and 55. My husband, on the other hand, was happy as a clam around 62mph. I drive like a turtle, but he has a lead foot I tied helium balloons to to help control his inner Nascar driver.

He was talking last night about these issues and wants to change out the rear axle on the van for a dually axle. I find that a bit intimidating! But doing so would make the van more stable and less likely to flip. Considering our precious cargo (our kids) I think stability is a great idea! I saw a 6 door F650 and Wow! That's a truck! Unfortunately, it's way out of the budget.

We got an awesome deal on the tt; it was only $17K! The people who owned it prior to us barely used it and it looks brand new. The van is a 9 passenger conversion van without the high top. It's the wagon model with the two large rear windows, so the back of it does extend a bit past the rear axle.

As for sway bars, I thought the Equalizer 4pt hitch was an all-in-one kind of thing? It was recommended by two different rv places and I read lots of good reviews....dh won't be happy when I tell him we should look at another kind

We have 6 months to get this right. Then, we're hitting the road and driving from S TX to Anchorage. I'm pretty excited about the trip (it's a military move), but we've got to get this right before then- I want to be as safe as possible.
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Old 11-03-2011, 04:21 PM   #8
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Don't know where in TX you are, but there is an outfit in San Antonio who does the dually conversions...

Alamo Conversion Co.

They don't show anything on the website, but surely calling them for info will help.

Joe
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Old 11-03-2011, 05:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Just my 2 cents' worth - if you could find a clean Ford Excursion with the 7.3L diesel, it would certainly be worth considering.
The problem with an Excursion diesel is it has only 9,200 pounds gvwr. And it weighs almost that much if it's a 4x4 and loaded with a family of seven and a full tank of diesel plus the ball mount and ball for a weight-distributing hitch. So not much payload capacity left for hitch weight. Sorta like the towing capacity of a 7.3L F-250 CrewCab diesel 4x4 - nice 6-pax pickup but not enough GVWR to handle the hitch weight of a big TT without being overloaded.
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Old 11-04-2011, 03:04 PM   #10
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You don't need to change the rear axle to a dually axle. At least one company makes adapters to run duals on your present axle. They are found with an internet search, and on ebay. If you choose this option, do not buy the aluminum adapters, buy only steel.
I almost forgot. I thank you both for your dedication to keeping the rest of us safe and free!
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Old 11-05-2011, 04:10 PM   #11
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I will add that if you have a tranny cooler that is a heat exchanger or has it's radiator in front of the engine radiator, that can cause engine heating. If you do have a 355 rear end you probably can't get enough engine RPM to keep it cool with out runnig about 70. Like was mentioned before, if you have P rated tires, that can cause handling problems.
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Old 11-11-2011, 04:37 PM   #12
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As a 6.0 Ford diesel owner I know about over heating. If you still have the EGR cooler get rid of it. If you still have the Ford gold coolant flush out your system and replace it with CAT EL coolant. If it still over heats then you need a new oil cooler and thermostat.

Do you have a set of gauges like a ScanGauge to let you know what your oil and water temps are? If not, buy one so you can start fixing the problems. If you don't you will be buying a new $14,000 motor....
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Old 11-25-2011, 06:47 PM   #13
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My input:

Propride hitch ($2500.00), and add a helper spring at a spring shop ($350.00) E350 probably doesnt have a helper spring so a spring shop can add/make up their own helper spring, but start with the propride hitch or another brand to take some weight off the rear.

Good luck and please leave us feedback after you decide what to do.
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Old 12-06-2011, 11:02 AM   #14
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Thank you all for the advice and information. We first decided to change out the axle for one with a 4.10 ratio and limited slip. Then, it became obvious that we would not have time to do the work we'd need to do on the van. So, our Beast and the new axle are for sell. My husband found a 7.3L Excursion with four wheel drive and purchased it this weekend. We are leaving for the holidays and using this trip as a test run for the excursion/tt combo before attempting the Rockies and ALCAN next Spring. If the sway is not improved, we will purchase a new hitch. :( I'm really hoping the new vehicle with a shorter rear helps, though.

Oh, and the excursion has a bunch of gauges the van did not. DH is quite excited about those! Something like Scan Gauge is a distinct possibility for his Christmas gift, though since it has more...well, "play power". haha.
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