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ON DUTY

2008 Ford SuperDuty: A New Pulling Power Platform

By Larry Walton

Photos by Larry Walton and courtesy of Ford

My Ford Super Duty is getting a little long in the tooth.  The modified four-wheel-drive F-250 with a 7.3 liter Power Stroke is my personal truck and daily driver.  It gets a workout dragging boats, camp trailers and toyhaulers. The inside of the bed is all scratched and narfed up from hauling loads of quarry gravel and river rock.  My brother used it recently for a project our family-owned construction company was doing out of town, which saw it rolling six deep in the crew cab while pulling a tool trailer everyday.  The interior may never be the same.

So I can appreciate the attention to detail that Ford gives the design of this line of trucks.  They know that we actually use them for both work and play, for mobile offices and kid transports, for shopping trips and hunting trips. For our multiple uses, our trucks need a balance between tough on the outside and comfy on the inside.

Ford set a new standard with the new 2008 F-Series Super Duty. What started with a new Power Stroke designed to meet emissions gave way to opportunities to improve the Super Duty in a number of ways.  It delivers more power; it tows bigger loads; and hauls more cargo than ever before.  Plus, they’ve improved ride comfort and in-cab amenities.

A BIGGER POWER STROKE

On the work front, all three levels of the new truck (F-250, F-350 and F-450) have added capacities and functions to help get the job done.  The grill-on-hood design allows easy access to the engine bay while a deep front bumper step provides a solid platform. At the heart is an all new twin turbo Power Stroke diesel.

Displacing 6.4 liters, this new power plant was designed in part to meet stringent new emission guidelines.  But at the same time, it gave engineers an opportunity to apply some new technology that yields more power while making less noise.

The new diesel is quiet enough for you to order drive-thru food without turning off the engine and still enjoy 350 hp @ 3000 rpm and 650 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2000 rpm.  Making the new diesel quieter was a top priority for Ford engineers. They tuned the air induction system and redesigned several components from valve covers and exhaust system to pistons and rings all with the goal of taming the roar.

Standing outside the truck it’s hard to believe you’re not listening to the purr of a gas engine.  Add to the quiet engine several measures to insulate the interior of the cab from the engine bay and you can imagine a peaceful ride with the option of hearing the full range of music pumped out by the sound system.

Reduced sound waves match the reduced particulate emissions, which are down to gasoline engine equivalents.  A cleaner burn starts with 28,000psi fuel pressure in the new common fuel rail.  From there, the mixture is shot into the cylinders in multiple bursts through Piezo-electric injectors.  This injection process reduces engine clatter and reduces emissions while providing more power.

Exhaust gases pass through two coolers before hitting the EGR valve.  This cooling along with intercooled combustion air and oil-jet piston cooling, help lower combustion temperatures, which also reduces nitrogen-related emissions.

Additionally, the combination of the diesel oxidation catalyst and diesel particulate filter scrubs hydro-carbons and soot.  The system is self-cleaning and self-diagnostic.

Designed specifically to run on Ultra-Low-Sulfur diesel (ULSD), the 6.4 will also operate on B5 (5% biodiesel).  However, there is no flex plan for the oil, which is exclusively CJ-4. 

To help get the Power Stroke ready for the biodiesel age, Ford increased fuel filtering capacities while improving the water separator capabilities.  Eliminating water improves performance while protecting the fuel pump and injection system from corrosion.

Twin turbos (or “Dual sequential turbos”) do a better job of spreading power across the tach.  The The high-pressure Electronic Variable Response Turbo (EVRT) spools up quick to deliver immediate low end throttle response.  As things get cooking, the larger high-volume-low-pressure turbo brings the airflow needed at peak power producing rpm.

To match the new engine, the automatic transmissions underwent some changes designed to make them tougher and quieter.  Ford engineers developed a new three-plate torque converter architecture that reduces idle NVH (noise, vibration and harmonics) and improves shift quality. All-new gear sets were developed to reduce gear whine and the clutches were optimized to eliminate ticking by changing the groove pattern.

Just as the new engine delivers more power with less noise and lower emissions, the beefed up chassis can handle bigger loads and more stress while also improving ride quality.

A REAL LOAD TOTER 

In the past it was a given that riding in a one ton truck without a load in the bed required a kidney belt and2008 Ford F-450 Super Duty Lariat King Ranch Edition something to treat a headache.  Not so with the new Super Duty, which has 8-inch longer rear leaf springs that are mounted further forward on the frame significantly smoothing road irregularities.

A properly equipped F-450 4x2 can haul 6120 lbs.  If towing is your thing, choose the combination for maximum tow loads and you can drag 24,500 lbs up about any grade you choose.

The F-250 can tow up to 16,400 lbs. or haul 3170 lbs. in the bed.  Maximum towing capacity for the F-350 is 18,700 lbs.  Properly equipped, the F-350 can pack a payload of 5720 lbs.

OCCUPANT FRIENDLY CAB2008 Ford Super Duty: Lariat; Instrument Panel

While the 2008 version moves more in the work direction at its core, interior refinements are catching up with the interior re-designs we’ve seen in recent models of the F-150.  Along with the shiny parts, several measures were taken to make the interior quieter including foam insulation in the roof pillars and new seals on the windows and doors.

Some of the hottest new features have to do with the climate control.  There’s an increase in flow to provide more even heating and cooling throughout the cabin.  They also fine tuned the venting system to make blower rush quieter. Both driver and passenger can set temperatures to their preference. 

But the best of these is advancements is an available rapid-heat supplemental heating element much like those used in a hair stylist’s blow dryer.  This system provides warm air while the diesel engine is warming up enough to take over with traditional coolant activated heat exchanger. This is going to find fast favor with those who live and work in the snow belt.

Nice details like an optional center console to go with the captain’s chairs can hold a laptop for the contractor or engineer.  Other more family related features provide power points for electronics in the rear seating area, DVD and MP3 systems with wireless headphones.  An auxiliary jack for MP3 players lets you bring your play list into the cab as well.

Another list of well-thought-out features (not all standard) just makes life easier.  A fold-out Tailgate Step™ eases getting in and out of the bed.   A stowable bed extender helps short box owners haul 8 foot material or tonneau cover owners keep cargo near the tailgate.  PowerScope™ tow mirrors now have both power folding and telescoping capabilities.  Auxiliary switches are already built into the dash for those of us who like to add lights and other accessories.

Ford’s integrated brake controller system continues to be the best towing set-up.  Trailer brakes are neither inertia nor timer controlled, but rather controlled by the input you give the brake pedal.

I’m not happy about my test drive of the 2008 Super Duty. The reason: For the first time since I bought my Super Duty in 2001 I know there is another F-Series out there I would rather be driving.

  During our press introduction in Texas I asked one of the Ford engineers to give me a bumper to bumper tour of what’s new for 2008.  Here are some of the features that have evolved on the F-Series Super Duty:

  • Lowered head lamps
  • Bolder design cues
  • Lowered front frame rails
  • Hood on grill
  • Front bumper step for easy engine bay access2008 Ford F-350 Super Duty
  • 6 cooler stack
  • Dual sequential turbos
  • 6.4 liter Power Stroke (350 hp, 650 lb.-ft.)
  • Power extendable and power fold trailer tow mirrors
  • All new instrument panel
  • Engine-only traction control
  • Insta heat cabin control
  • Integrated navigation and family entertainment system
  • Line-in for MP3 and CD
  • Improved noise and vibration reduction
  • Integrated tail gate step
  • Tailgate torsion bar to help lift the tailgate

Anytime you start talking about truck towing and hauling capacities keep in mind that the manufacturers are trying to post the best score possible for their trucks.  A very specific model with an exact combination of engine, transmission, axle ratio, cab configuration and wheel base are necessary to haul the maximum load.

Because suspension and brakes are often the limiting factors in load capacity, the lighter the truck’s combination of features the more it can haul.  For example, a 4x2 eliminates the weight of the transfer case, front dif and drive line making more weight available for cargo.

Stability and tire capacity also play a role so maximum loads can be handled only on trucks with dual rear wheels.  Bigger tow loads require the biggest engine, the lowest axle ratio and the best automatic transmission.  Weight savings with manual transmissions make them the cargo kings but clutches can’t handle the combination of torque and maximum loads for towing.

Load distribution is also an important factor.  The tongue weight of a trailer should be 10-15% of the total loaded trailer weight.  This requirement means a conventional trailer will be limited by tongue weight capacities to about 8,000lbs less than what can be towed on a 5th wheel trailer set up.

To tow the 24,500lbs max you need a 5th wheel trailer and the F-450 dually crew cab 4x2 equipped with the 6.4L Power Stroke, automatic transmission, 4.88 axle ratio and the “High-Capacity Trailer Tow Package.” You’ll also need to weigh in at a buck fifty on the scales and load no passengers or gear in the truck.

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