Calling all tow pros... Gauges, MPG's, possible upgrades? - Diesel Forum - TheDieselStop.com
Power Strokes 1994-1997 General Technical discussion of topics related to vehicles powered by the Power Stroke engine in 1994 through 1997 models.

 
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-26-2018, 11:14 AM Thread Starter
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Questions about towing... OverDrive, Gauges, MPG's, possible upgrades?


The wife and I finally towed our first toy hauler to southern california (Glamis) this week. Our 1996 SC 4x4 7.3 is almost all stock with an auto trans, other than a bigger down tube and my newly installed donaldson intake kit. It does have 215k miles on it and I have 4:10 gears so when I am towing at 2000 RPM's we are traveling around 63 MPH.

I installed some ISSPRO EV2 gauges last week just before the trip so I could get a feel for how the truck was handling the trailer. I went with trans temp, pyro and boost. The gauges worked out great and I am really happy that I went with the ISSPRO. They look great and seemed to work perfectly. When I am not towing, I can get on the throttle and make 15psi boost pretty easily... which seems great to me. My boost is tapped right into my turbo spider pipe.

To preface some questions that I am going to ask, I towed between 60 to 65 MPH for the 240 mile trip. its a very gradual 1800' elevation change over those 240 miles. Towing the trailer I got about 9 mpg. I felt like that seemed a little low, so I am wondering If I am just driving the truck all wrong, or if that is to be expected?

When I start from a dead stop, I dont get into the throttle real hard at all... Maybe making around 5 psi boost for the gradual climb up to speed (60 - 65MPH). It will certainly boost more If I get into it, but I thought I was being kind to the motor, trans and MPG's by driving this way. Now I am starting to wonder if I want to give it some more throttle to utilize the boost more? Once I get up to speed, my boost gauge stays around 4 or 5 all day. My trans temp never got above 200 degrees, which I was thrilled about. I was kind of timid with the pyro gauge and never even let it get above 1250. I tried to keep it no higher than 1200 for stretches longer than a minute or so actually. My pyro is tapped right by the exhaust manifold coupler, near the oil filter. There were a few small hills where I had to slow up to about 50mph because I was trying to keep the egt's no higher than 1250... Do I just need to be okay with the egt's spiking a bit when pulling a grade like this? Or do I just need more power?

Since the truck and trailer are both new to us, I was thrilled to have made it with no issues on a long trip like this. But now I am getting greedy and I want to know if there is anything I can do to change my driving habits or small upgrades to the truck to help it tow better when pulling grades and maybe get better MPG's.

1996 f-250 XLT 4x4 7.3 - 215k miles - bone stock, for now...

Last edited by DAH7; 11-27-2018 at 10:09 AM. Reason: adjusting to a more appropriate title
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-26-2018, 03:04 PM
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Sounds about right to me. I drive pretty similar. On my last 1500 mile round trip to western Kansas I averaged 12 mpg. I got 16-17 empty and 7 loaded (16,000 lbs). I have 3.55 gear but because of the lower overdrive ratio of the 5 speed and the shorter tires I also run right at 63mph @ 2000rpm. Ran about 2200rpm out on interstate, egtís were a bit better on the grades. I also have a 4x4,4.10, auto, f250 and it does about the same.
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1995 F350 CC dually, 5 speed, 2WD, 3.55 gear, 4Ē exhaust, e99 intake spyder and intercooler, DIY air filter mod, custom gauge pod with pyro, egt, and trans temp. 160 FF injectors, DP F6 w/40 tow, 80 tow, 80 dd, fast idle & exhaust brake, PTO w/hydraulic pump for custom tilt bed trailer and winch
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-27-2018, 10:08 AM Thread Starter
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Do you always run in OverDrive? I am new to towing and have never had a truck with OverDrive. I have no idea what this feature is for, or how to use it properly.

I never took the trans out of OverDrive on the entire trip... but I felt like there were a few times when I was slowed down to about 45 - 50 MPH and only 1500 RPMS when it may have been beneficial to downshift and pull through the grade.

Any guidance on this would be greatly appreciated...

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Sounds about right to me. I drive pretty similar. On my last 1500 mile round trip to western Kansas I averaged 12 mpg. I got 16-17 empty and 7 loaded (16,000 lbs). I have 3.55 gear but because of the lower overdrive ratio of the 5 speed and the shorter tires I also run right at 63mph @ 2000rpm. Ran about 2200rpm out on interstate, egtís were a bit better on the grades. I also have a 4x4,4.10, auto, f250 and it does about the same.

1996 f-250 XLT 4x4 7.3 - 215k miles - bone stock, for now...
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-27-2018, 02:32 PM
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I always use overdrive, unless the grade dictates otherwise. Sounds like maybe you could have down shifted on the described situation. Depends on a lot of different circumstances, length of the grade, how close to the top, weight of load, etc. EGTís dictate some of what to do. If they are too high itís let off some or downshift. A truck with stock injectors and tune will be hard to get the egtís too high. We have some fairly steep grades here in NE Iowa, on some I down shift at the bottom of the hill before the motor even begins to lug, pick a speed (usually 55) and hold it there till the top. One thing I have learned with my 3.55 geared truck, waiting too long to down shift is the wrong thing to do. The 4.10 auto truck is much more forgiving.

1995 F350 CC dually, 5 speed, 2WD, 3.55 gear, 4Ē exhaust, e99 intake spyder and intercooler, DIY air filter mod, custom gauge pod with pyro, egt, and trans temp. 160 FF injectors, DP F6 w/40 tow, 80 tow, 80 dd, fast idle & exhaust brake, PTO w/hydraulic pump for custom tilt bed trailer and winch
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-27-2018, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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So whats the safest way to guide the auto trans to shift when you want it to?

My truck has stock injectors and doesnt have any chip that I am aware of. I start to let out when my EGT's get to about 1200... rarely do I let them hit 1250.. and If I do, its only for 10 -15 seconds. I'd like to understand how to do what you described below, where you know a grade is coming, so you downshift and pick a speed like 55mph that you know you can safely hold through the grade. This sounds like a good way to approach these types of situations.

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I always use overdrive, unless the grade dictates otherwise. Sounds like maybe you could have down shifted on the described situation. Depends on a lot of different circumstances, length of the grade, how close to the top, weight of load, etc. EGTís dictate some of what to do. If they are too high itís let off some or downshift. A truck with stock injectors and tune will be hard to get the egtís too high. We have some fairly steep grades here in NE Iowa, on some I down shift at the bottom of the hill before the motor even begins to lug, pick a speed (usually 55) and hold it there till the top. One thing I have learned with my 3.55 geared truck, waiting too long to down shift is the wrong thing to do. The 4.10 auto truck is much more forgiving.

1996 f-250 XLT 4x4 7.3 - 215k miles - bone stock, for now...
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-27-2018, 06:12 PM
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When I had my 97 Crew Cab Dually I blew the torque convertor at 175K miles towing about 11000 pounds on a hot summer day. The guy who rebuilt the transmission is a friend of mine who works at the Ford dealer. He built the transmission and put a billet torque convertor in, said I would be good for 100K miles (changing fluid every 30K miles). He knew I hauled RV's from Elkhart, Indiana to points all over the southeast so he installed an Edge programmer. It was a four way programmer, stock, tow, performance and race. He told me to keep it in the performance position which was good for 80 hp and 100 ft/lbs. So that put me at 325 hp and 520 ft/lbs. He also put a 4 inch MBRP exhaust and made the catalytic convertor disappear, so that added even more power and took the worry of EGT's away. He knew I hauled between 8000 and 13500 pounds through the mountains of Tennessee, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Alabama on a regular basis but told me as long as I stayed out of the race position on the Edge I wouldn't need gauges other than the transmission temp gauge he installed. I hauled 50K miles that year and saw temps climb to 105 degrees during the summer but never had any issues. It felt good holding 55mph on I-24 on Monteagle Mountain just outside of Chatanooga while the truckers were trying to maintain 35-40 mph. I was proud of that old truck. Even with 250K miles on her she worked as hard as she did on day one. A few years ago we decided to get a Toy Hauler though and I hauled it through Georgia and decided I needed more power. 16500 was pushing it even with the Edge programmer. I went to a 6.7 and, MAN! What a difference. Don't ever tow with one unless you can buy it. I loved my 7.3 but this is a different league! Don't get me wrong, your truck is a great truck and tows very well. But just know it's limitations. The transmission is the weak link so make sure you install a good external cooler for it. I forgot to mention my transmission man did that too.

2011 F350 4x4 XL Crew Cab Dually

2010 Keystone Fuzion 405 Toyhauler
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-27-2018, 06:38 PM
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As for mileage I found that 62MPH was the ideal speed for towing on mine. I had 4:10 gears also. That Edge programmer got me about one and a half mpg better than stock and towing mileage was between 10-13 mpg depending on weight. Unloaded on a flat road driving at 55 mph I have gotten 20.7 mpg. The Edge extends the shift points enough that it doesn't bog down after a shift with a load. No more than you're hauling it shouldn't be an issue though.

2011 F350 4x4 XL Crew Cab Dually

2010 Keystone Fuzion 405 Toyhauler
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-27-2018, 07:11 PM
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The button on the end of the shift selector arm will shift the truck out of OD and keep it off until pushed again. Both my trucks have 160 cc injectors and tunes, most of the time I run them on 40hp tow setting. Seems like plenty of power to me, at least for what I pull. My auto trans has also been built, which if your going to add power is pretty much a must do.

No doubt about the 6.7ís. They have got twenty years on the obs trucks and it shows. The 6 speed auto they have behind it doesnít hurt either. As nice as they are Iíll stick with my obs 7.3ís.

1995 F350 CC dually, 5 speed, 2WD, 3.55 gear, 4Ē exhaust, e99 intake spyder and intercooler, DIY air filter mod, custom gauge pod with pyro, egt, and trans temp. 160 FF injectors, DP F6 w/40 tow, 80 tow, 80 dd, fast idle & exhaust brake, PTO w/hydraulic pump for custom tilt bed trailer and winch
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-27-2018, 07:57 PM Thread Starter
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Im sure the 6.7's are a huge upgrade in technology most of all. Unfortunately, my wife and I are not in a position to step up to that truck at this stage in our lives. Out toy hauler weighs about 7k when loaded down now, and I dont see it ever weighing more than 9k in the future (even if we get a RZR in there). So I am hoping if I take care of this truck and treat her well, that she will last me at least another few years... which seems reasonable to me

I dont plan to squeeze a bunch more horsepower out of this truck, I just want her to be reliable and steady for a few more years. The only reason I want to get my EGT's lower is just because I don't want to damage the motor. I have read that towing at 1250 all day is well within the limits of these trucks, but it still stresses me out seeing it pegged at 1200 for 15 minutes at a time. Perhaps I just need to be more comfortable with letting it rise to 1300 now again for 10-15 second intervals.

If I keep it out of overdrive and I'm pulling a steady grade for 1 minute or so, whats a safe RPM range and EGT level to do this at? Someone mentioned I could roll at 3k RPM's for a while no problem, but i've never taken the truck above 2500 RPM's... and even then I felt like I was beating on it pretty good. Is that just all in my head? Do I just need to quit babying this truck?

1996 f-250 XLT 4x4 7.3 - 215k miles - bone stock, for now...
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-27-2018, 09:01 PM
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The 7.3 is a tough motor that is happiest when it's working hard. I was racking up 2500 miles a week at one time. It can take it. That said, make sure everything on the front of the motor is replaced if you're going on long trips. Alternator, vacuum pump, water pump, tensioner. I got sidelined with a water pump once and the vacuum pump once. I could have replaced everything for much less than those two roadside breakdowns cost me. With what little weight you're hauling, you'll be fine. If I hadn't moved up in weight with my personal RV, I'd still have my 97. If you do decide to get a tune or a programmer it will probably help your mileage some, and a 4 inch exhaust can help too. Especially with your EGT's. And they really aren't very expensive for these trucks. I think the exhaust and the Edge were under $800. Have fun!

2011 F350 4x4 XL Crew Cab Dually

2010 Keystone Fuzion 405 Toyhauler
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post #11 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-27-2018, 11:04 PM
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My best guess is that at 2500-2600rpm in DRIVE you should be at 55 mph, varies a little depending on tire height. Thatís an ok rpm for quite some time or slow down to 50 mph and turn 2350rpm or so. I do the 2500 rpm up the steep hills but most around here are maybe a couple miles long. Sounds like you are going to have to pick between 50mph and 1200degrees or 50 mph and 2350 rpm. Either one is fine. Sometimes getting a bit of a run before the grade is all it takes, speed up to 70mph (if itís not braking the law or wonít get you a ticket), should be close to 2200rpm, see how that goes.

A tuner and exhaust might get you up those hills at your 62-63mph @2000 rpm at those weights. It will help for sure, but if you are happy with how itís doing $800 will buy fuel for 10 of those 240 mile trips.

1995 F350 CC dually, 5 speed, 2WD, 3.55 gear, 4Ē exhaust, e99 intake spyder and intercooler, DIY air filter mod, custom gauge pod with pyro, egt, and trans temp. 160 FF injectors, DP F6 w/40 tow, 80 tow, 80 dd, fast idle & exhaust brake, PTO w/hydraulic pump for custom tilt bed trailer and winch
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post #12 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-28-2018, 08:34 AM
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We just upgraded from our trusty old 97 to a 2016, but the 97 is still sitting out front waiting to be put on the selling block.

I had an Edge programmer in it set to Safe Tow (because towing is the only thing we did with that truck). I added a second tranny cooler, Banks billeted torque converter, a Banks intercooler (since the 97's didn't have them), a Banks trans command, a D-Celerator exhaust brake, 4" exhaust, gauges (same ones you have), and maybe some other stuff I've forgotten about.

I'd say just watch your EGT's and don't let them get into the red zone (if your gauge has that). The intercooler probably made the biggest difference in performance. I could stay in Overdrive much longer before 'buttoning out' and downshifting.

Our current trailer weighs about 8k and the old girl hauled it with no issues. The only reason I upgraded was because wifey was on me constantly about getting a new-to-us truck. I finally relented and we hit Carmax for the hunt. Nevertheless, I still love the old gal and I'm really dragging my heels on the selling thing. You'll love your 7.3. And, it actually sounds like a truck, unlike our 2016 which is quieter than wifey's '14 Expedition. Ha.

The only other thing we did to improve towing was to have disc brakes put on our trailer. Wow! No more white knuckling down our mountains!
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post #13 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-28-2018, 09:26 AM
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I didn't really want to sell mine either but my wife wouldn't drive it and a guy that worked for me offered stupid money for it. But I see him driving it pretty much every week or so. Still looks good.

2011 F350 4x4 XL Crew Cab Dually

2010 Keystone Fuzion 405 Toyhauler

Last edited by badbart; 11-30-2018 at 08:32 AM.
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post #14 of 15 (permalink) Old 11-30-2018, 08:38 AM
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Calling all tow pros... Gauges, MPG's, possible upgrades?-97-f350-2.jpg

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Calling all tow pros... Gauges, MPG's, possible upgrades?-97-f350-4.jpg

2011 F350 4x4 XL Crew Cab Dually

2010 Keystone Fuzion 405 Toyhauler
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post #15 of 15 (permalink) Old 12-01-2018, 07:15 AM
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I use my '96 F250 exclusively for hauling my 27-foot travel trailer. It's an automatic with a 3.55 factory differential. I have not added any power programming. I did replace the stupid cobrahead exhaust downpipe with a proper round one and replaced the problematic factory air box with a Tymar intake using the big Donaldson air filter. I also replaced the little factory automatic tranny cooler on the front of the radiator with a larger TruCool unit. I also installed a switch to let me use the EBPV as an exhaust brake and put a switch in the auto tranny circuit to let me employ the torque converter lockup circuit at all times when using the exhaust brake on downhill grades.

My philosophy is to use the 215hp diesel as it was originally designed even if it is a bit derated compared to what it could do with the power enhancers. I'm looking to achieve the long-term durability built into the engine and transmission. For the past 22 years, it's worked that way.

As far as towing techniques, I run about 60mph in overdrive on the flats which keeps the EGTs below 1000F. When going uphill, I let the EGTs determine my speed, and as soon as the EGTs climb near the 1200F mark I punch out overdrive and run in third. If the grade is steep enough, which is pretty rare, it goes into second gear to keep the EGTs in check. I use the transmission that way in order to achieve the best balance of EGTs and MPHs when climbing hills. I don't mind running 3000rpm to climb a grade if needs be. Dropping into the 40MPHs going up Eisenhower pass in the Rockies is OK with me. I'll get to my destinations all in good time.

Using my driving approach, I'm able to achieve an overall average of 14mpg towing with my rig. I see no reason to change horses at this stage of my journey.

Good luck with your rig. You got a good one.

Last edited by MichaelPatrick; 12-01-2018 at 07:18 AM.
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