Just two days after the Toyos were mounted it was time to put them to work. The first part of my testing involved towing our vintage 30-foot Avion travel trailer. I often weigh my outfits before heading out, though I was leaving much later than planned, so I bypassed the local truck scales. For trips like this with 65 gallons of water in the trailer, plenty of food, tools, and warm clothes for a week of hunting and dry camping, the Avion weighs close to 8,000 pounds. The F350’s bed was loaded with 45 gallons of extra water, a generator, cans of gas and diesel, and some tools. From experience I know the gross-combined-weight (GCW) was 16,000 pounds, give or take a few hundred.
Coupled to the truck with a standard weight-distribution hitch using 1,000-pound spring bars and a friction sway control, the F350’s stock suspension handles the load easily. The Toyo M/Ts were pumped to 55 psi in front and 70 psi in the rear, more than enough for the load on each axle.
The old International 7.3L T444E diesel provides plenty of twist, particularly when coupled to the ZF-S5 manual tranny and factory 4.10:1 gearing.
Eastbound And Down, Loaded-Up And Truckin’
Traveling mostly 65 mph, the old Ford logged 10.67 mpg at my first fuel stop in Winnemucca, Nevada, after the first 170 miles. It would be nice to get better fuel economy but the load and speed had everything to do with the results. I don’t mind driving slow sometimes, but I-can’t-drive-55. Almost this entire first segment of freeway hauling was done in 5th/overdrive, but with 4.10:1 ring-and-pinions the old 7.3L International is spinning faster and using more fuel than newer Super Dutys with their taller 3.73:1 gears.
Onward and upward I traveled into north central Nevada. Still rolling on pavement but now on a rural two-lane highway, it’s not uncommon to be the only rig on the road at night in remote Nevada. At another two-lane junction there was enough light for my camera and mini tripod to capture the old school glow.
The tires tracked well, the 255 width being about perfect for rolling down the road, rarely pulled by ruts or edges like wider tires often are.
After a brief stop at Denio Junction to top the fuel tanks before leaving the pavement, I rolled into camp late; about 9:00 p.m. Thankfully Charlie and I had used the same BLM spot two years prior, so finding my way, even at night wasn’t a problem. I parked on a fairly level 52-ft long section of dirt, everything still hitched, leaving truck, trailer, and camp setup chores for the morning. There is much to be said for just walking through the man-sized door of a travel trailer and going to sleep in an old luxury apartment on wheels.
Copyright © 2013 James Langan
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