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Old 11-04-2008, 09:54 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Stephen Mick View Post
Hmmm…a van. Now that's an idea I hadn't considered. Are we talking the Ford Econoline "conversion" van here? E-250 or E-350? Diesel or gas? What should I be looking for?

Thanks!
I have never seen an E250 conversion van, much less an E350. It would be great if they did, but the conversion van companies are selling a cushy ride, which the Ford 3/4 ton doesn't offer. It's much more of a truck, and is more sited to towing, than comparable 3/4 ton vans from, say, Dodge. GM is doing better these days, the suspension is more heavy-duty than in "the good old days". You MAY be able to find a GMC Savanna 2500 van, I have seen them as conversions, though very rarely.
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Old 11-04-2008, 11:30 AM   #16
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I have never seen an E250 conversion van, much less an E350. It would be great if they did, but the conversion van companies are selling a cushy ride....
I have two high top conversion vans - a '95 Dodge 3/4 ton (B-250) with 95,000 miles and a '96 Ford E-150 with 157,000 miles (Heavy Half?) - both set up for towing. The Dodge does a far superior job towing the Sovereign. Both Vans are remarkably similar - 3.91 rear ends - 351 CID/360CID - nearly identical wheelbase, width, and weight ratings. The Dodge IS heavier sprung, which I suspect makes it a better tower.

Prior to purchasing both of these vehicles (used) I seriously considered purchasing a new stripped van and having an aftermarket modifier do the "customizing" - the Ford (a Mark III conversion) is by far the better quality of conversion compared to the Dodge (done by a company in Picayune Mississippi). Neither company is still in business. With the recent Downturn in the economy, I would suspect that there are existing companies willing to take on a one-off conversion.

The Ford is my daily driver, and the Dodge currently only tows the Sovereign. The Dodge was purchased as a heavy work van to rebuild the house in the New Orleans area after Katrina....it made many trips from Houston to New Orleans on a weekly basis pulling a dual axle open trailer loaded with constuction materials.

Due to the miles (and age) on both of these vans I am gearing up to replace the two of them with one vehicle - and am certainly considering going the purchase a stripper-take it to a customizer route. Other options are a used Excursion, a full-blown 4 door pickup, or even a "big diesel rig" conversion set up soley as a Tow Vehicle.

The truth of the matter is, every time we travel in the B-Van pulling the trailer at some point the conversation comes around as to how comfortable the conversion van is for travelling. The combination of pulling ability, ride, comfort, and the amenities provided by the conversion company (television, comfortable Captains Chairs, convertable bed, wood trim, lighting, second AC, sound sytem, etc) make it a tough "do all" vehicle to top.

Diesels are nice to pull with, but, oh, what a pain in the behind to work on in a van configuration....below is my former Tow Vehicle - an E-350 Cabriolet Diesel Duallly.








The "Sleeper" was not big enough, the interior noise was WAY too loud, the non-turbo 7.3 liter diesel was a bit anemic, and the unloaded ride was very rough, but - what an awesome tow vehicle.
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Old 11-04-2008, 11:53 AM   #17
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I have a 1957 26" Overlander. I am looking into tow vehicles also-will need to be able to offroad with it. Am seriously considering between a Chevy Colorado or a Toyota Tacoma, both with the full rear seat-not so much for people we will be taking with us, but for equipment we don't want to throw in the back of the truck itself-that, or the furkids. I have three ferrets I travel with frequently...and hope they can handle trips in the Airstream. Wonder how I can make an Airstream ferret proof...
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Old 11-04-2008, 12:17 PM   #18
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I have a 1957 26" Overlander. I am looking into tow vehicles also-will need to be able to offroad with it. Am seriously considering between a Chevy Colorado or a Toyota Tacoma, both with the full rear seat-...
Be careful with the "small pickups" - Max available payload for the 4 door Tacoma is only 1300 lbs.

Figure at least 500 lbs for the O'lander tongue and hitch and 200 lbs for gas you have only 600 lbs left for EVERYTHING ELSE - people, gear, and ferrets....

For the same amount of money (or close to it) you could get a full sized pickup with a much more appropriate tow and payload rating.
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Old 11-04-2008, 12:49 PM   #19
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Our friends have that Suburban and it gets 10 mpg towing and 13 mpg driving if they are lucky.... They tow a 2004 safari 28' I don't now how much your rig weighs but Iv'e towed there trailer with my 08 Sequoia with no problem... I think theirs fully loaded is around 7000 lbs.... I towed it from colorado to Zion over the mountains.... But if your trailer weighs more than this it probably is not better than your truck....
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Old 11-04-2008, 02:48 PM   #20
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IIRC, our 28' CCD goes 7300# fully loaded to the max. Following the 80% "rule", I always figured the new Sequoia would be pushing the comfort zone.

--SM
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Old 11-04-2008, 04:26 PM   #21
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One caution regarding conversion vans is the tow ratings. Conversion vans are inheriently heavier than factory window vans so understand in advance, how that conversion package has altered "factory specs".

Also note that a more robust chasis may not always translate to higher tow ratings. At the time my 2003 GMC 3/4 ton passenger van with a 4.10 rear axle and 6.0 liter gas engine had the best tow ratings of any GM van built (9,900 lbs). The reasons were two fold. First in that year, no diesal was available in the vans. Secondly the one ton van with the same top end engine and axle had lower tow ratings due to the heavier weight of the one ton frame.

A van is a terrific alternative for towing. It punches a big footprint in the air and its wheelbase in the 3/4 ton range makes for a very stable towing platform. Add in the benefits of the protected storage space and a much lower price than a SUV, you've got a pretty good option in hauling your cargo along with the trailer itself.

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Old 11-04-2008, 05:09 PM   #22
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Folks,

After pulling our new (to us) 2006 28" International CCD from Texas to the Grand Tetons and back, we realized a couple of things.

One, the 2000 F-250 (5.4L V8) just doesn't have enough juice to get the job done long term.

Two, given the camera gear I usually travel with, an SUV would be a better choice for us.

So, I've narrowed down to a couple of tow vehicle choices. I'm looking at the Ford Excursion (either 2003 7.3 diesel or 2005 6.0 diesel) and at the 2006 Chevy Suburban 2500 (with the 8.1L V8).

That said, the smaller the SUV I can get away with, the happier the entire family will be.

Do any of you have experiences to share on the specific models I posted? Do others have a different (non-pickup) make or model I should look at based on the weights of the trailer I'm towing?

All information and opinions are appreciated.

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Old 11-04-2008, 06:13 PM   #23
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Tow with Nissan Armada

Am towing a 30' Classic with the Nissan Armada (9,100 lbs rating). Does a great job (I tow a heavy boat too) and has very good creature comforts inside. Looks good, too. Take a test drive; I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Sincerely, Fred
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Old 11-04-2008, 08:40 PM   #24
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If I had to chose again I would go with the V10. I had an '03 V10 that was a superb tow engine. Now I've got a '07 6.0L diesel - the fuel economy is a little better (about 2mpg towing) and it's been trouble free with 50,000 miles on it. The oil changes and fuel filters have made it more expensive to maintain then the V10. So for the money, I would go back to the V10.
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Old 11-04-2008, 08:56 PM   #25
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What can I say.. we partial.

Love it this way.
I'd love a 'burb, but with the 7300# GVW of our trailer, I wonder how well it would pull. Any thoughts?

--SM
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Old 11-04-2008, 08:57 PM   #26
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Am towing a 30' Classic with the Nissan Armada (9,100 lbs rating). Does a great job (I tow a heavy boat too) and has very good creature comforts inside. Looks good, too. Take a test drive; I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Sincerely, Fred
Wow! Towing a TT that size with the Armada? I guess when you're towing in the "lowcountry" it's probably okay.

I worry about pulling in the "mountains" of West Texas with only 9100# of rating.

But a test drive may be in order.
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Old 11-04-2008, 10:23 PM   #27
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it's true that the early Ford 6.0 DIT(direct inject turbo) were the most troublesome of the 6.0 liter engines. A multitude of problems in the 2003 & 2004 model years. I am a Ford master certified diesel mechanic, I made a BUNCH of house payments off the early 6.o liter engines. The 2005 showed significant improvments, my brother against my advice bought a 2005 and loved it. However they are prone to injecter failure ie: the top of the injecter breaks-into multiple small pieces. On some engines this happens repeatedly on the same cylinder. As has been previously mentioned the Torque Shift transmission on these units is awesome, there were some early(2003&4) torque converter problems but they seem to have been resolved by 2005 model year. My opinion is you cannot beat a 7.3 DIT diesel! Plenty of power & boringly reliable. They will shuck a cam sensor now and again. The 6.0 is a rocket ship, the old 7.3 is always there. And it ain't no slouch in the performance department. Adios, John
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Old 11-04-2008, 10:26 PM   #28
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Thanks for the info. It really seems like the 7.3L Excursion might be the way to go. Reliable powerplant, deals to be had, and plenty of miles left in those vehicles.

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