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dmasincupp

Tow Vehicle for large family? Excursion or Crew Cab Truck

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Looking for advice from some folks with experience. My wife and I are preparing to go FT and I am struggling to decide between using our Excursion (7.3) and a TT or selling it to get a Crew Cab Truck and a 5th Wheel.

 

Our situation:

 

4 young children (9, 5, 4, 2).

 

Obviously the extra room in the Excursion would be a plus, but if we get a Crew Cab truck we could all fit...and my 9 year old would love riding in the front middle seat.

 

The advantage of the Crew Cab would be the ability to pull a 5th wheel and feel more stable while driving and would give me the ability to tow a larger trailer for the living part.

 

How much do you typically drive in a day?

 

With the Excursion, while it will pull anything, I would have about 1000 lbs less towing capacity than a Crew Crab F350 (for example). So they real question is, would the trade off between more comfortably traveling between destination and having a larger "home" at our destination and having a (potentially) easier pulling rig be worth it?

 

 

Thanks!!

 

 

Edited by dmasincupp

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...How much do you typically drive in a day?...

 

...With the Excursion, while it will pull anything, I would have about 1000 lbs less towing capacity than a Crew Crab F350 (for example)...

Welcome to the Escapees Forum!!!

 

We are retired and only two, so can't answer all of your questions. We try to drive 5 hours or less which comes out to about 200-250 miles. We seldom travel for more than three days without a stop of at least two nights.

 

I suggest you check both the towing capacity of your Excursion and its Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). You need to be able to carry the six of you and any cargo that will be in the vehicle with capacity left for the tongue weight of the trailer you will tow. You can load up the Excursion with a full tank of gas, the family and all their stuff and go to a scale to get a weight. Travel trailers generally put 10-15% of their weight on the tongue. Use the GVWR of the trailer not the dry weight to estimate the tongue weight.

 

Take a look at the F-350 towing capacity chart. Maximum towing capacity ranges from 12000# to 19000# for trailers and 12000# to 26500# for 5th wheels depending on the engine, rear end and single or duel rear wheels.

 

Again, Welcome to the Escapees Forum!!!

Edited by trailertraveler

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There are so many answers and such a small amount of space to reply.

All the points that trailertraveler said plus,

How many miles are on the Excursion?

Does the Excursion have a towing package?

What is the length of the TT?

I would put the 2 year old up front not the 9 year old.

A 5th wheel would provide more living space.

What engine are you looking at in the F350? Suggest diesel.

Are you going new or used for a Tow Vehicle?

So many more points to make but this will get you started.

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The Excursion will ride better empty but it will sag noticeably in the back when loaded. Others that I have seen feel it is necessary to add overload springs. I wonder if this is because it overloads the back or if it is just cosmetics. The F350 will be better able to handle the load and may be safer but the Excursion will be more comfotable. A 5er will handle better. I would look at 5ers and travel trailers to see what would work for your family and then determine the tow vehicle necessary to accomadate it. Many have acquired a tow vehicle only to latter find it will not handle the trailer they want.

Edited by Randy retired

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I would put the 2 year old up front not the 9 year old.

 

http://www.carseatsmadesimple.org/mnlaw.cfm

 

The above link is to the car seat regulations for Minnesota. A child must be at least 8 years old or 4' 9" tall to use a seat belt without a booster seat. It is recommended that no child under age 13 ride in the front seat. I do not know how much these guidelines vary from state to state but I would be checking it out before purchasing a vehicle that requires one of the kids to sit in the front seat. If the guidelines are OK I would take all the car seats and booster seats to a dealer and see how they fit before making any further decisions.

 

Linda Sand

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Thanks for all the replies and the welcome...I'm very excited to get this adventure started!!

 

I'll just run down some of the questions.

 

Ex has 93K miles on it. I have swapped the factory springs for F250 springs so it rides a little stiffer and (hopefully) should tow better. I pulled a 14ft enclosed trailer that weighed in at about 7K over the Smokies with no problems. But, it has some rust issues and that scare me. I need to get the oil pan replaced.

 

I would only get a diesel F350, but it wouldn't be new. I'd probably go with another 7.3 or a bulletproofed 6.0. I'm trying to stay within a certain budget and they will fit best, I am spoiled and couldn't go back.

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Welcome to the Escapee forums! You may also want to check out the Xscapers website.

 

I think that with 4 children you might find the truck & fifth wheel the best combination because of the living space. Remember that you will be in much smaller living quarters and a few extra square feet of space can be very important. Even children need to have some private space on occasion.

 

When living in the RV, most of us quickly find that long hours of travel are unnecessary and unpleasant. There is no reason to spend a lot of time watching the countryside pass by your windshield. Slow down and see the places that you pass through is the lifestyle most of us find best. We rarely traveled more than 200 miles in a day and frequently less. There were many days that we traveled even less than that and we seldom traveled more than two consecutive days.

 

The seating issue is a difficult one since the 3 seat tow vehicle would clearly be best for the family while traveling, but the Excursion won't be able to tow nearly as large a trailer. Since no two families are quite the same it is difficult for us to give very good advice in the choice here. Shorter travel periods would make the loss of one seat less problem but as the children grow that space need will also. Are you thinking of living on the road for one or two years, or do you expect to make this a permanent way of life? If permanent then keep in mind that space needs are going to change as the kids grow up. If you plan to make this your lifestyle then it is very important to project your needs into the future at least several years. You may find the website Families on the Road to be more helpful to you than we can with some of the issues that you will need to address.

Edited by Kirk

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Six people in a pickup - 4 of whom are kids = Yikes!

 

Your Excursion has three-row seating, right?

 

If so - that means two of you per row - (IMO) LOTS better for kids when traveling long distances!

 

You say you are going to full time - so how much "distance" traveling will you be doing and how well do your

kids get along in confined spaces -sitting elbow to elbow - for extended periods of travel?

 

One provides better accommodation at your destination - one provides better traveling accommodations.

Which would serve you better? - Only you can answer that one.

 

IMO - do lots of homework and spend some time on additional forums that have more folks with young

families.

 

Good luck with finding what (hopefully) will work best for you.

 

.

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I had one other thought. It may be completely out of your budget, but if you are only traveling short distances at a time would it be possible to travel with both a truck and a very small inexpensive car? That would give you much more flexibility both in RV choice, but also for comfort and safety for everyone.

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This is what we did (six kids):

 

We have an E-350 (van) with a tow package that could have pulled our travel trailer easily. That works fine for weekend camping. But when we decided to hit the road full-time, we got the F-350 deisel dually and traded the travel trailer for a 5er. For actual living, nearly any 5er is going to work better for a family than a TT. There were too many of us to all fit in the crew cab, so one of us had to follow behind in the van.

 

We are off the road now. However, I will tell you that we regularly travel in the truck with four kids, no problem. It is roomier than a passenger sedan. Just don't put a small child in the front, as it is both dangerous and illegal.

Edited by Kinsa

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Thanks for all the replies and the welcome...I'm very excited to get this adventure started!!

 

I'll just run down some of the questions.

 

Ex has 93K miles on it. I have swapped the factory springs for F250 springs so it rides a little stiffer and (hopefully) should tow better. I pulled a 14ft enclosed trailer that weighed in at about 7K over the Smokies with no problems. But, it has some rust issues and that scare me. I need to get the oil pan replaced.

 

I would only get a diesel F350, but it wouldn't be new. I'd probably go with another 7.3 or a bulletproofed 6.0. I'm trying to stay within a certain budget and they will fit best, I am spoiled and couldn't go back.

Changing out the rear springs will not give it a heavier payload. It is a false sense of security since your rear will not be sqauting as much and your headlights searching for flying bats. There is ALOT that goes into calculating towing and GVWR. Check and know the weights of everything as you want to keep your family safe. Edited by rynosback

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The Excursion max tongue weight is going to be 1,000 or 1,200 lbs depending on the year. This will limit the size of your trailer and how much you can stow in the front storage compartment of the trailer.

 

If you max out the tongue weight, you may find that you'll be at or over GVWR with the family in the Excursion. I'm not going to make a judgement here, some feel the Ex can handle it, some don't.

 

The 7.3 is a great motor but is older and needs attention. You will likely be pushing it pretty hard and will need to make sure that everything is in good shape. This forum ( http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/forum31/) is a pretty good place to read up on common issues.

 

If you're going to stick with a 7.3 I would at least get familiar with the OBD gauges that can be used with it and ensure that the truck is making good boost and other operating parameters like injector pulse width and injector control pressure all look good. It may be good to get EGT gauges too. Since you are going to be very dependent on the truck you may even want to get a really good health check, including oil analysis and compression check, just to be sure you're working from a solid platform.

 

I don't know what your price range is, but if you decide to go the pickup route, you might be able to find a newer gas DRW crew cab that's as (or more) capable than a stock 7.3. You would probably need to have a really good feeling for weight characteristics of the 5'er before choosing a gas truck though. Based on the costs of maintaining a modern diesel pickup truck, I would opt for a gas one if I could find one that comfortably met my needs. The risk of a bad tank of fuel causing a $10,000 repair bill just doesn't seem worth it unless there's no choice due to capacity needs.

 

If you do need work done on the truck you'll probably be able to find more competent shops that can work on a gas truck vs the 7.3 since it's been out of production now for 13 years. Since you will be full timing, this may be a an important consideration as well.

 

 

 

 

>> But, it has some rust issues and that scare me. I need to get the oil pan replaced.

 

If the oil pan is shot and can't be repaired in place the proper process for replacing it is to remove the engine to replace the pan. This is a non-trivial expense...

 

 

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Thanks to everyone for the great input. It's much appreciated.

 

 

 

Another car...that would work for me, but I think that my wife would not be good with that. She hates driving. Works well for me because I love it.

 

Kinsa...great insight into the tradeoffs between comfortable traveling and comfortable living. Thanks! It's encouraging to see folks with larger families making it work. Sometimes (mostly when the kids are tired and/or hungry) we think we must be crazy.

 

ryno...thanks for the reality check. The more I learn the more I realize that stiffer springs won't increase any towing capacity, but they have at least improved handling significantly.

 

 

ekim...I have the gauges now as I am somewhat of an oil burning fanboy and love my diesels before I became interested in towing with them. When the family grew we moved to the excursion. I actually just dropped it off today for an engine pull to replace the oil pan and any other rusted trans/brake lines. I figure if I get rid of it or keep it needs to be done and will be a better truck for me or for the next owner. Its costly, but if the non-engine components can hold up its got another 400K miles of life left. (hopefully). You are spot on with it being harder to find a good mechanic to work on these trucks. Definitely something I have struggled with and something I will have to consider carefully. Thanks!

 

 

The more research I have done the more I am leaning towards getting a 2005 or new F350 DRW (or 450 if I can find one). My budget won't allow (ok, my aversion to debt won't allow) me to get anything too new, but I think I can trade up by selling the Ex and not have to lay out too much for a 5-8 year newer model. I am 6'2'' and after walking through some 5ers and TT...I like the extra headroom...a lot!

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You are probably on the right track with the 5th wheel and pull truck. Be sure to do your research on which year Ford motors had issues in the years you are looking at.

 

In either case you will want to try to limit your daily drives when on the road to 200-300 miles as the dually will not be comfortable for long periods.

 

We do know of two larger families with young kids that are full timing with an HDT, so you may want to jump over to the HDT group and see if you can get some info from them. One of them uses just the HDT to haul the family, the other uses both the HDT and a separate vehicle.

Edited by Star Dreamer

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Do yourself a big favor and get the best of both worlds, go with an older freightliner, FL60 or FL70, There is a really nice one listed in the for sale section of this forum. I have owned an excursion, several f350s, 250s, etc. My favorite by far was a 96, fl60. Never should have sold it. 4 door has more room in it than an excursion, can tow a house and is still reasonable to drive around town. It handles so much better than either you are looking at. Don't let the size intimidate you, just drive one and you will be amazed. I had the 5.7L cummins in it with the allison transmission and got 15mpg on the highway, my excursion and F350 never came close to that. Only drawback that I can think of is getting into the truck. If you have problems with bad knees, hips, etc than maybe not a fit for you but if the physical limitations do not bother you than by all means find an early model FL60 or 70. I think that would suit you very well.

Just my opinion of course!

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I personally think the HDT route would be a good one both for room and safety. If you do opt for a pickup....check out the Dodge mega cab....wow it has room in it! The Excursion and a TT would not make you happy....trust me...lol.

Edited by Jimalberta

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Just to throw a spanner in the works!!!! Keep your current vehicle and flat tow it behind a motorhome. Consider the cost of a new 1 ton pick and a 5th wheel. Then compare that to a good use motorhome towing the vehicle you already have. Just thinking out loud.

 

regards

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I havent seen many motorhomes that can sleep 6 .

 

Actually most of them can if you are willing to convert the dinette and the sofa bed every night. Remember that their kids are all young so don't need large or fancy beds. I remember being able to sleep anywhere when young. I, personally, wouldn't want to do that conversion every night, though.

 

My favorite family rig floor plan was a 5th wheel that had two bunk beds on each side of a half bath in the back. Perfect sleeping arrangement for a family of six in my opinion. Unfortunately, I don't remember the name of the rig nor whether or not the living/eating areas supported that many people well.

 

Linda Sand

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There are so many answers and such a small amount of space to reply.

All the points that trailertraveler said plus,

How many miles are on the Excursion?

Does the Excursion have a towing package?

What is the length of the TT?

I would put the 2 year old up front not the 9 year old.

A 5th wheel would provide more living space.

What engine are you looking at in the F350? Suggest diesel.

Are you going new or used for a Tow Vehicle?

So many more points to make but this will get you started.

Just an aside, it's illegal for a 2 yr old child to ride in the front seat of a vehicle in most states.

 

Back to the subject; an Excursion will not have the load capacity of a one-ton truck because of tire weight rating. That alone (IMO) dictates a crew-cab one-ton truck.

When making your decisions on a tow vehicle and trailer, this online weight calculator is of great assistance.

Edited by RayIN

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