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Old 09-19-2009, 12:59 PM   #1
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1971 23' Safari
Portland , Oregon
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Towing with a ford e series van

I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has experience towing with a Ford E250 or 350 series van, either cargo or passenger, regular or extended. I currently tow my '71 Safari with a '99 F250 SD SC LB 4x4 5.4L V8. I'm considering moving to a van for a variety of reasons. I'm particularly interested in input on these vans with the V10 engine regarding MPG and power compared to the V8. The V8 in my Super Duty does a good job of towing the Safari. The only place it feels like the truck is straining is when going over the steeper mountain passes in the NW. Otherwise, it's hard to tell the trailer is behind me. It looks like the dry weight of either van is less than my Super Duty, which is good. From what I could find online, it looks like the length of these vans would be 1 to 2 feet shorter than my Super Duty (20.5') depending on whether it was the regular or extended version.

Comparisons between driving the van versus a big pickup are welcome.



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Old 09-19-2009, 03:33 PM   #2
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I used to tow a 23' with an e150. Did a great job. I wouldn't recommend the extended van however, because you want the shortest possible distance between the rear axle and the hitch ball. Van's also make a great tow vehicle because of the long wheel base.

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Old 09-19-2009, 04:31 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by TGK View Post
I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has experience towing with a Ford E250 or 350 series van, either cargo or passenger, regular or extended.... I'm particularly interested in input on these vans with the V10 engine regarding MPG and power compared to the V8....Comparisons between driving the van versus a big pickup are welcome.

I have had some recent experience.

I have towed the 31' Sovereign with an E-350 Diesel Cabriolet , an E-150 van v-8 gasser, and a 2005 excursion with the v-10.

The E-350 was loud and a very rough ride - it settled down quite a bit with the 750 lbs (at that time) of the tongue on the hitch. I found the non-turbo diesel to be really underpowered and very, very loud. No room at all under the hood to work on things. I would suspect the newer ones are quite a bit softer riding and much quieter. Got about 13 mpg towing.

The E-150 was a surprisingly good tow vehicle - considering the 350 cubic inch engine. The tranny was NEVER happy in overdrive, and always pulled in "third" gear. I would suspect the reason the 150 towed so well was the fact that it had the "shorty" rear end. Stability was much better with the Hensley as compared to the Reese dual cam. About 9-10 mpg towing.

Now, the Excursion is, by far, the best overall towing vehicle of the three. The frame is essentially the same frame as found on the F-250 and 350. Compare the empty weights of all of the vehicles you are considering. The Excursion comes in at 7,600 lbs rigged up for towing - an incredibly stable towing platform. The frames of the 250 plus F-series are MUCH stouter than the vans. Even though the F-series are lighter than the Excursions the Excursions had softer springs than the comparable F-series. The springs are interchangable from the Ex to the Pups, so there are a wide range of spring series available. While towing, I usually tow in OD (here in flatland Texas, anyway). Once the tranny seeks third I switch off the OD. I have installed a vacuum gauge and a couple of electronic guages that allow me to constantly monitor two engine functions each. By paying attention to the gauges I pretty know just where the engine is power wise and will judiciously switch from OD on to OD off. Don't know for sure if the newer V-10's allow for a 5 speed tranny - if they do, go for it. I get about 10 mpg towing, and about 13 mpg solo with the Excursion, but you have to consider the weight of the Ex, I don't think the comparable Pickups weigh in at that weight unloaded.

Now, I REALLY like the van for touring, but, for towing, the Excursion can't be beat. I have a good friend I 'stream with often. He pulls his 31' with an crew cab 8' bed F-350 6.0 Diesel. Nice quiet rig, but CONSTANTLY in the shop with one or another engine related problem. It takes the proverbial 40 acres to turn it around. The new Ford 6.7 liter diesel engine should make things interesting when it comes out.

Hope this helps - I found the Excursion with less than 35,000 miles on it. It is enough of a brother to the F series that is should be a good comparison.

Bottom line, as good as a tow vehicle the E-350 should be, it is just NOT a "heavy duty" tow vehicle. The F-250 would probably make for a better tow, primarily because of the heavier frame. Compare the running gear side by side and make up your own mind. Remember, with the lighter springs available for interchange on the F series you could possibly "lighten up" the ride quality of a heavier duty pickup.

Good luck, please post back with your own comparisons and final purchase.

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Old 09-19-2009, 05:37 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by 87MH View Post

The E-150 was a surprisingly good tow vehicle - considering the 350 cubic inch engine. The tranny was NEVER happy in overdrive, and always pulled in "third" gear. I would suspect the reason the 150 towed so well was the fact that it had the "shorty" rear end. Stability was much better with the Hensley as compared to the Reese dual cam. About 9-10 mpg towing.
I'd think the E150 would have been overloaded pulling a 31ft trailer. Ours is a '95 with a 351, and it's only rated for something in the area of 6000lbs, IIRC. It tows our little trailer handily without any strain, except when pulling up the steepest hills, but nothing that downshifting won't take care of.

Ours could have a better rear end for towing, but it gets most of it's use around town without the trailer so we didn't upgrade it. Personally, I would rather have a 4x4 truck than the van. Without a limited slip it's only got one driving wheel in the back, and we have gotten that wheel stuck in the mud while at a campground and were lucky to get unstuck without help. Plus it's useless in any sort of slippery conditions.

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Old 09-19-2009, 05:52 PM   #5
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I had a Ford window 250 van with a 350 in it. It pulled fairly well but was effected by the wind from passing trucks. The engine had some problems and blew the timing gear at 95,000 miles. It lost a crank at about 125,000. I was pulling the 63 Overlander with it and used a frictional Reese. I bought the 77 31 footer with the Ford 250 window van attached. It had a 460 in it and about 43,000 miles. It had rod knock at 120,000 miles and had it rebuilt. Had problems with carburetor after that as well as starter and exhaust problems. Used a Reese twin cam with that rig but still had problems with the trucks passing me on close expressways. Wife had problems driving with this rig. Finally bought a Chevy 350 dually with a 8.1 liter in it in 2003. It ran much better and wife could drive in traffic. Used the 750 pound bars but still shook up the trailer pretty bad. Had problems with rivets in the front stabilizer plate wearing loose and rear end separation got worse. Lots of hard miles in NY, New England and Canada. Started to take the 63 around instead without any w/d hitch or antisway. No problem. Have not done any of the high speed tough miles lately. Engine runs good except the fuel pump went out at 35,000 miles and the spark timing sensor at 50,000 miles as well as the sensors for the front wheels on the ABS brake system. None covered under warren tee.
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Old 09-19-2009, 06:11 PM   #6
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I have the V-10 in my Winnebago. The unit weighs in at 14060 lbs. I have towed a featherlite trailer behind with my jeep on the trailer. The entire GVW was just short of 20k. The V-10 performed very well with plenty of power. The reliability has been great. The only shortfall.. Gas.. It loves gas.

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Old 09-19-2009, 06:48 PM   #7
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It's been quite a while, but in my previous postion, I towed a 7000 lb Wells Cargo trailer with a 2000 E350 passenger van with the V10. No complaints about power, and from what I've been told, it's been steadfastly reliable over 9 years of less-than-cared-for company vehicle use.

Part of me missed our old 1989 E350 with its big-block 460, but I only missed the torque of that beast off the line - nothing else.

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Old 09-19-2009, 08:38 PM   #8
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I don't have the Ford type but use a dodge Conversion mark III B250 to haul my 31' around nd still get 300 + miles to the tank when we are loaded to brim with kids, cat and everything else.
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.
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Old 09-20-2009, 12:05 AM   #9
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Here's an old discussion

A few of us weighed in here also:

I've got an E350 for our 28' and really like it.
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Old 09-20-2009, 09:12 AM   #10
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I find this one interesting, as a conversion on a rental/lease return e350 is still on my radar. I want to pull all the rear seats, install a bed, a bulkhead to mount a tv/satellite and behind the bulkhead a porta potti and lots of storage for all the stuff my truck hauls presently. The value in these vans is huge, just go to the sportsmobile site and you will see 75k is common for them to buy and build a new one.

I need it to tow, but also a transcontinental vehicle we can get in and cover 2k miles in a couple of days and not stop. My only concern is the towing capabilities, and this is good news that a 28 is being towed with success. The extended version would be perfect, but shorter might work as well. Chevrolet has a much better set up with the wheel base. I am just sold on ford after all the luck we have had with our 08 f150. It is impossible to find a v10 version used from the fleet returns.I have looked for over 6 months, so I bought our 150 when the lease ran up. She does it all perfectly but o that bed in back sounds good!!!
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Old 09-20-2009, 10:49 AM   #11
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We tow our 31' Sovereign with an E-350 15 pax PSD and it is a great tow vehicle IMHO.

We had a gas burner before that (5.4 V-8) which didn't have near the torque as the diesel.

With a large family, I've never had the option of a pick up or excursion but have been quite happy with our choice. The van is long enough and heavy enough to counter the size and weight of the trailer.

Our trip to New York this summer averaged 65-70 mph and rarely left overdrive except on steep grades. (But that's the diesel, performance chip, and 4" exhaust)

I love the E-350, gas or diesel!
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Old 09-20-2009, 10:58 AM   #12
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E350 tv

I have logged 100,000 miles towing a 30' car carrier (with car) with my 94 E350 with a 460 EFI v8. The van I have is a cargo van-I have been looking for a new(er) unit with the V10-hard to find. Lots of diesels, lots of 5.4v8-Ford dealer told me the 5.4 in 2010 will have the 3 valve engine which adds about 45 horsepower. All those miles were with a queen size bed in back with the porta potti-1500 miles is EASY in two days. I have made three 350 mile trips with my 85 31 ft excella behind my old van, and it averaged 9.5 mpg in "Limp Home Mode"-I knew something was wrong, so into the shop only to discover the ECM had died. I am in the process of getting repaired, now. So that is why I have looked for a 350V10-only one in the portland metro area for sale right now, and the dealer wants to dang much for it. it is a 2007 unit that the dealership received new in auust 07-it has been on their lot since. only 2000 miles on it, but he wants too much. So I have continued looking. I understand the v10 eats gas, and I am considering the 5.4-reluctantly. The v10 also comes with the Torqshift 5 speed which is actually a 6 speed-once you put in tow/haul mode it actually locks into 3rd overdrive delivering a split gear between 3/4. This trans looks really good. With my 460, I have the 4.10 rear gear and can pull 4th gear (e40d) all the way from portland to seattle without down shifting. Friends of mine with p/u's same engine/trans but 3.55 rear gears have to lock it out of o/d-that's why my van gets such good mileage. The torque figures on the v10 look good, but it does use fuel. Oh, I towed between portland and denver one time with an extended van-NEVER again! the trailer (fully loaded) pushed the rear end of the van in corners too much-the overhang is just too much. Had an exciting fishtail event on Cabbage Patch Hill, East of Pedleton. NEVER again.
I heartily recommend the e series for towing, preferable the e350 with a bigger engine-and get the factory tow package if you can.
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Old 09-20-2009, 01:36 PM   #13
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We tow our 31' classic with our E-350 7.1 liter turbo diesel. This van will pull your AS with no problem and we get 12 MPG fully loaded, van at 9,000 lbs and AS at gross. Pulling over long steep grades on a hot summer day will turn on the radiator fan full blast and sound like a jet overhead but never slower than 45 MPH. We do wear earplugs while towing so your head is not worn out when you get to your destination.
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Old 09-27-2009, 06:43 PM   #14
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We have a 2001 Ford E-150 Traveler Van with 350 V8 and it has towed our 2003 25ft Safari without any issues in the mountains of VA, WV and PA.

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