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How can we Beef-up the old F-350

Discussion in 'Ford Trucks' started by petervonb, Jan 30, 2012.

  1. petervonb

    petervonb Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    Our Volunteer FD has a low mileage 1993 F-350 diesel pickup with automatic transmission, and in the winter we attach a fairly new Western 60390 8 ft. plow to clear the driveways and parking lots at our fire stations.

    The plowing work is done by any number of people, some of whom have been plowing and maintaining vehicles for years, and some of whom one might say "have no clue". (We have managed to make it clear to all that they should not do the work in 4wd Hi - but that was only after a transmission rebuild.)

    It is obvious that plowing work adds stresses and strains to many parts of a truck, but trying to eliminate such extra stress through driver training is difficult at best in our situation.

    The questions I would have for members of this forum are:
    a) Which parts of the vehicle are most apt to fail due to the added stresses from (perhaps slightly careless) plowing activities; and
    b) What are some good ways to beef up those parts to reduce the likelihood of failure?

    In other words, are there things like extra-heavy-duty universal joints and other driveline parts, and similar extra-heavy-duty suspension parts, or frame-related parts, and/or other add-on parts and pieces - to help compensate for the fact that the truck manufacturers weren't interested in spending the money to build really tough trucks - probably because they would cost too much?

    We are talking about a location in the Hudson River Valley in NY where we have all kinds of snow - just not as much as in Buffalo.

    (If this information is available on an existing thread, please direct me there.)

    DIRISHMAN PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,256

    I think you may have ment to say ,Do not plow in 4 wheel LOW rather than high
    High gear is what ya want not low unless your pushin masssive amount of snow very very slow a short distance and then putting it back into high gear
    LOW gear plowing will increase the frictiion in the transfer case and heat up the fluid much Quicker and cause sevear damage by over heating even if you have a trans cooler...

    We all know low is just for climbing and gettin unstuck and maybe pullin something a very short distance
  3. mnglocker

    mnglocker Senior Member
    Messages: 923

    Keep the newbs out from behind the wheel and let them sit shotgun with some old farts and learn how it's done.
  4. tjctransport

    tjctransport PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,390

    agreed. the best preventive care that truck can get is to hide the keys, and only let a few people use it.
    the only thing that can really be screwed up plowing is the trans. unless the driver hits something.
  5. petervonb

    petervonb Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    "I think you may have ment to say ,Do not plow in 4 wheel LOW rather than high"
    WOW. I hate it when I screw up like that!

    I meant to say "Do not plow in 2 wheel high". That's what led to the tranny damage, we figure.

    Sometimes, people who should know better are the ones who do stuff like that - it isn't always the newbs.

    What I could use is a source for reasonably priced parts that will beef up the truck, and advice on which things should be beefed up.

  6. coldcoffee

    coldcoffee Senior Member
    Messages: 776

    I'd suggest putting a shock therapy dog collar on the new operators, observe them while plowing with the remote in hand... every time they shift gears w/o coming to a complete stop... press the button on the controller.
  7. RepoMan1968

    RepoMan1968 Senior Member
    Messages: 439

    i always said it has alot to do with the operater of the truck .
    keep cowboys away from the cab .
  8. martincare29

    martincare29 Member
    Messages: 30

    we run a few 97 ford f 350 they in my mind are one bad plow truck we have front and back plows on a few and even have 2 salt spreaders in a few of them .
    if they have beat the truck up that bad its crazy to me how many years have they plowed with it you should get 3 years out of a trans at least .
    the front end of the frames on those trucks are know to crack i can tell you that we have welded flat stock on each side of the frams up in the front behind the bumper to slow the cracking down.
    as for anything to beef it up throw in an extra leaf spring or 2 tighten up the sup

    these trucks are tuff like the other guys said its all drivers slap them up the head and show them how to plow they dont care its not there truck i hate that way of thinking.
  9. petervonb

    petervonb Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    Thanks for the continuing stream of advice and ideas, folks. "Keep those cards and letters coming."

    To be fair, most of the members who plow with the truck know what they are doing - it's just an occasional one who fools us and turns out to cause trouble.

    I like hearing things like the possibility of frame damage that can be prevented or repaired with welded on pieces of steel.

    This questioning was inspired by the fact that the truck dropped its rear driveshaft the other day on the highway.

    We use it to haul a trailer carrying an ARGO ATV fitted out for patient rescue or personnel transport and it was on a call for a rescue (but was cancelled when the patient was transported by others) and the driver was not happy with the way the truck felt and handled. When he returned to the firehouse, we ran it around and over bumps, pulling its trailer to see if there was something loose in the front end. One of the Chiefs got there and he and the driver took it and the trailer out on the highway for a little road test, during which time it dropped the shaft. Luckily it hadn't occurred during the emergency response, which involves some steep downhill country road driving.

    I see that places like Advance Auto, Auto Zone, JC Whitney, various 4wd parts outfits all have universal joints priced from $5 to $86. So what I am hoping to get from fellow forum users is an explanation of why one might be better than the other; what makes a good one; and fer cryin' out loud ... why does one cost $86?

    Other parts that get stressed plowing snow would probably have similar widespread pricing ranges and I wonder what makes one better than the other.

    Comments still hoped for.
  10. tjctransport

    tjctransport PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,390

    i have been plowing in 2 wheel drive for over 35 years. i only put it in 4 wheel when i need it, which is around 5% of the time. once i get traction back it is back into 2 wheel drive.
    more than likely what killed the trans was beating on it and overheating the transmission. all plow trucks should have a trans temp gauge and an external trans cooler mounted in front of the radiator.
  11. tjctransport

    tjctransport PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,390

    i use the NAPA heavy duty premium universals.
    the stock u-joints om my 88 died at 95, 000 miles.
    the NAPA u-joints have been in there for 398, 000 miles now and are still tight. the difference is they are grease-able, and stronger than normal universal joints.

    and i just put a full set in the 02 also at 170k miles
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2012