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Old 02-22-2011, 12:01 AM   #1
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The Search For a Tow Vehicle

Since we are going back to a 5er, we started looking for a tow beast. I'm not interested in spending 50K for a new truck, so I've been looking at older units that are easy to work on and non-electronic in nature. True, they might not have as much power as there electronic counterparts, but when I'm retired, I wont be in a hurry anyhow.

I have found a few that fit the bill; a 94 Ford turbo diesel crewcab dually 2wd, with 140K on it. Or a 91 Ford diesel supercab diesel dually 4wd, with 87K on it. They are both about the same price and will do the job. We will be going with an older 5er with 1 slide max so they should have no problems with the weight. Kinda leaning towards the 91 since its shorter, 4wd, and has less miles on it. I can add a turbo kit to it to get the ponies and mpg up.

Its kinda fun looking...........but its a PITA too!
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Old 02-22-2011, 07:00 AM   #2
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I could sit here all day and say this and that..but the decision is still all yours. You seem to have the knowledge to redo what you feel needs to be done...so... go with your gut and get the one you want.
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Old 02-22-2011, 07:24 AM   #3
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Sounds like you know what you want. Good luck with your search.

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Old 02-22-2011, 07:36 AM   #4
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IMO atleast step up to an early PSD or DMax.
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Old 02-22-2011, 08:35 AM   #5
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Here is a Buyer Guide on Diesel trucks from Turbo Diesel Register .COM this should help you in your search for a used diesel truck.
Turbo Diesel Buyers Guide
You can down load it and read it from your computer.

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Old 02-22-2011, 09:21 AM   #6
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The '91 Ford Diesel may not be a Turbo charged engine if it is still stock, I think the first Ford Turbo was introduced with the mid '93 models. Then in '95 they came out with the Powerstroke. A naturally aspirated Ford diesel of that vintage may be a geat engine but it'll be slow on a grade and will lack the torque that a turbo charged engine would have.
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Old 02-25-2011, 06:56 AM   #7
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FWIW I have a good friend who rebuilds turbochargers and he says he would only consider a naturally aspirated diesel PERIOD ! ! ! ! He gets big bucks to work on turbochargers and he also said if you have one and just come in off the highway don't shut it off for at least 20-30 minutes and let it idle to cool down before shutting it off. This is from the guy that rebuilds them every day.

I have another friend who was a diesel engine designer for a major US firm and he told me if you get a diesel, get a Cummins only. He said he would not buy what he designed as he was ordered to design engines for low production costs. I was on a tour bus last weekend and I got to talking to the driver after looking at the mileage which was 506K. He said it was a Cummins and they ran Mobil 1 synthetic diesel in the fleet only. I listened to that thing for 600 miles and it just purred. He said the Cummins had never been into.

Got another freind who drives his own 18 wheeler with a big Cummins with Mobil 1. He sends in oil samples and he runs the Mobil 1 40 to 46K between changes.

I have a GMC 2500HD 6L (gas) that I pull a 31' 76 Airstream with and worst mileage I have gotton with it is 11.5 and best is 12.2. I could not be more pleased with it. I lucked up and found a used one with 90,500 on it and I divided the engine hours into mileage and the guy averaged over 45 MPH for 90.5K ! ! ! ! He must not have ever stopped at a red light ! !! Truck is like brand new. I love it.

I was over in Alabama a couple months back and a couple of crews from Southern Co came in to a hotel we stopped at. One was driving a 2500HD Duramax and I got to talking to him about it. With the economy Southern Co. is extending their fleet life and he says his truck had 295K on it and was doing fine and that he had no idea when he would see another new one.

What really impressed me with my 2500HD was I went up I-77 last August and hit the Fancy Gap Grade in Virginia pulled the 31' AS. I watched the engine temp gage and it never moved all the way up the grade. The tranny gage went up 30 degrees to 195 and within ten miles it had dropped back to 165.

I had a F250 with oversize cooling system and the engine would heat up 15 degrees running that grade by itself ! ! ! ! I had SW racing gage set. But then Ford screwed me on a warranty claim and that was the last Ford I touched. I suspect if I had my AS on that truck temp would have gone to 235 or better.

Then the other day I went over to Augusta Ga to a truck/trailer supply house and got lighting for a lowboy trailer I am rigging out to carry long light stuff up to 25' length and on a lark I stopped by the Nissan dealer and got to talking. The Nissan pickup truck has a tow rating of 9000 and I drove it. I love the 2500HD but I gotta say the Nissan has better more comfortable seating and ride hands down over 2500HD with a 13-18 mileage rating.

The only thing I did not like was the Nissan fold down center seat does not have storage inside (translation = armory) like the 2500HD does. Other than that I could find nothing wrong with it. I crawled up under it (as I always do for a looksee at the running gear) and it has a huge tranny to boot which is also a 5 speed.

Retail on it is 29K for extended cab. I think I am going to have to look hard at a Nissan next year or end of this year if the economy doesn't melt down.
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Old 02-26-2011, 11:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hitchhiker View Post
The '91 Ford Diesel may not be a Turbo charged engine if it is still stock, I think the first Ford Turbo was introduced with the mid '93 models. Then in '95 they came out with the Powerstroke. A naturally aspirated Ford diesel of that vintage may be a geat engine but it'll be slow on a grade and will lack the torque that a turbo charged engine would have.
Dead-on Richard! I one owned an 87 Ford F250 diesel. We pulled a 30' 5er here in the Midwest without any issues. Our first trip West, about the Kansas/Colorado border, the truck became a real dog. In Denver I drove it to a Ford dealer for advice, which turned out to be quite expensive so I passed thinking I could eventually make do. Well, when we left Denver, West on I70 the truck fell on its face. Speed slowed to 20 MPH, bellowing black smoke following my rig, people slowing beside me shaking a fist at the pollution I was generating, well that was that trucks last trip pulling our 5er.
Bottom Line mountainkowboy, if whatever you buy doesn't have a trubocharger you will be retro-fitting your truck after your first trip. I have no idea what a turbocharger retro-fit kit would cost.
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Old 02-27-2011, 12:01 AM   #9
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I think you have the right idea staying away from all the electronic controls on diesels.
I bought exactly what i was looking for, for my motorhome with garage conversion a
F-700 with a factory 5.9L Cummins (and No electronics).
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Old 03-01-2011, 01:39 AM   #10
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I had 1992 Ford naturaly aspirated and it did not do good in the higher elevations here in Montana. I installed a turbo from Banks and it helped a lot. I traded it for a 1996 Power stroke and was much more happy with the towing ability.
Also do a check of the coolant and see if the additive has been kept up. If that has not been done there is the possibility of cavitation. Good luck with your choice.
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Old 03-01-2011, 06:07 AM   #11
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Ford used three different diesel engines in the 1994 pickups.
  1. The non-turbocharged 7.3 with no badging on the fenders.
  2. A turbocharged 7.3 badged "Turbo Diesel" on the fenders. (I believe this is a PowerStroke without the official badging)
  3. A true PowerStroke and badged as "PowerStroke Diesel" on the fenders.
Do you know which engine is in the 1994 Ford Pickup you're considering? I see you mentioned "turbocharged" in your original posting so we can eliminate the first engine of the three by default.
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Old 03-01-2011, 12:40 PM   #12
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The 1994 Ford diesel did have several choices. the first half of the year had a turbo Diesel, but it was an IDI engine that was set up for Ford by one of the companies that sold after market turbos, the name excapes me at this time. In the second half of 94 the power stroke was introduced and was a DI (direct ignition). It had the Powerstroke badge.

A friend of mine had the "Turbo Diesel" in an F250. it was a good running engine and was fairly strong for the time.

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Old 03-02-2011, 08:26 AM   #13
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In the 94 model there is the turbo diesel (non PSD) its the automatic. And the PSD in a standard you couldn't get a PSD in 94 with a auto.
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Old 03-02-2011, 10:33 PM   #14
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Its the non PSD turbo and I dont want another electronic wonder. I had a 95 PSD and it wa a good truck but the electronics of the PSD make it VERY hard to work on and a pain. I'm still looking for a truck, trying to get away from a crew and find a super/cab. The 94 is a crew and I'm still on the fence about it, I have found s few older Dodge 12v cummins to. I dont have to get a truck right away so I'm looking at all options.
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