View Full Version : Pickup truck suspension

Duct Taper
10-07-2005, 08:50 PM
This may be OT but a lot of you guys haul stuff in your pickup. Is there a difference in suspension between a Ford 1/2 Ton and 3/4 Ton pickup other than the rear spring capacity? If I need to haul a 1500 lb camper in a 1/2 Ton pickup, will overload springs or air bags do the job?

Flatline's Up!
10-07-2005, 08:55 PM
Not sure on the Ford, but I just bought a Chevy 2500 HD and there is significant difference in the frame, springs, and brakes, not to mention the trans...

I'd think overloads or air bags would work ok if you were hauling short term, but I'd look for a better answer if you plan on long term heavy hauling.

Good luck!

10-07-2005, 09:43 PM
Do you have a trailer you can use,if so I use it.Your Ford will handle 1500lbs but the hight of the camper will cause problems. If you do use your truck try to get the air bags.If it for long term use you can run an over size air line from bag to bag,too help with body roll.Take a look at a Big Rig.

10-07-2005, 10:20 PM
Duct taper nice name. Handy stuff duct tape. I have a 1989 f150 6 cylinder ford pickup. I haul a 1500 pound camper along with a 1400 pound boat. I have air bags in the rear and two extra leaf springs. Two on the left side (Im Fat) and one xtra on the right. I have towed this rig for like 60 hour trips driving. Never had a concern except drive carefully cause the brakes dont work i downshift like a mad whore and pump the brakes a bit. Just dont drive over your head and youll be ok. I also hauled besides the camper a box trailer large and heavy a six wheeled argo and a fj1200 motorcycle with a boat on behind the box trailer. And every nook and cranny was stuffed with crap, i moved up north, also my one ton toolbox.This trip was to thunder bay from waterloo ontario. No problems but a couple of second gear hill climbs on hwy 17 to the great white north. Oh blew two tires had to get heavier ply ones too much weight. You shouldnt have trouble with xtra leaf one per side and air bags to lift and stabilize yer truck. Good luck

Duct Taper
10-07-2005, 10:45 PM
Madman, you named yourself right! I don't plan on going that extreme though. The wife says I don't have to move out, just do the dishes! My traveling will normally be just the 1500 lb. camper and occasionally a small car trailer with brakes and a Model T Ford on it, max 3000 lbs. Maybe a milling machine or lathe once in a while.

Right now I have a F150 short box and the weight of the camper is too far back so I have to get a long box pickup. I can get a long box F150 or look around a bit more and find a F250 but it will have poorer gas mileage.

10-07-2005, 11:07 PM

Can it haul it? You betcha. Are you going to wish for a bigger truck when you have to get all over the left pedal? Probably.

If it's a newer one, I suspect you'll be over GVWR. Best payload you can get is 2000 lbs with a stripped 4x2 LWB with a 5.4L. You can step up to the HD F-150 (King Ranch?) and get up to 3060 or so. That's payload is everything. You, the wife, the cooler, whatever. Add in a shorter WB, bigger cab, 4x4 and it all goes down.

I have no idea about the older ones but I suspect that they are more heavy duty than the newish F-150s.

I pull a two horse trailer with my 2002 and really have to keep my mind on what I'm doing. With my engine drive, bottles and toolbox in the back, I can definitely feel the reduction in braking. That's probably 1000 lbs.

Flatline, I supect that Chevy 2500 HD is a 3500 with single rear wheels. I have a friend with a 1500 HD and it sure looks like a 2500 underneath.

J. Randall
10-07-2005, 11:08 PM
Aside from the spring issue, the 3/4 ton will have heavier axles, spindles,wheel studs and frame. I have hauled overhead campers on both, but I would much rather do it on the 3/4 ton. James

Flatline's Up!
10-08-2005, 09:25 AM
david_r... I'm thinking your right. The HD frame is crazy big compared to the reg 1/2t. I havn't measured it, but it looks like its about 8" (+) tall. I think the only differences in the 2500 vs 3500 are the trans offerings, larger motors, and an extra couple springs in the back along with the outboard wheels.

I'm really happy w/my 2500HD, I had it max loaded with week old cut firewood last week and put it in 4 wd and pulled an approx 35* x 20 yard long hill in my front yard and didn't slip a tire (it's got a locker rear as well). I'm really happy with it, all except the milage and the payments lol.

10-08-2005, 11:47 AM
I have a Ford Ranger supercab with a 2.9L V6. We put a camper on it years ago. I don't remember what it weighed but I put some airbags with assist springs on the back. That worked just fine and the truck has plenty enough power and brakes to handle it. It was a fully equipped camper with sink, fridge, stove, heater and fresh and grey water tank. The only problems I encountered was the airbags developing a leak after a few years and I fried the front wheel bearings with the camper on it one summer coming up the central valley of California when it was 110F in the shade. It lasted all the way home though.

We switched to a fifth wheel trailer after that because we started calling the camper the "cramper".

The one main modification I made was to build an engine oil cooler. It taps into the oil system using an adapter plate that screws in between the oil filter and the filter mount. The oil is directed to a copper tube radiator I made that sits in front of the regular rad. I made a manual bypass valve to shunt the oil past the oil rad in the winter. That makes a really big difference to engine temp when hauling a big load in hot weather. It never overheats.

Duct Taper
10-08-2005, 02:29 PM
This is the truck I just bought: http://www.minnesotacars.com/inventoryDetail.aspx?vehicleId=UT98347-160
It has aftermarket overload springs which I hope will do the job. If not I can put the air bags on.
This is the camper, but a really clean 1984 model without the shower or toilet feature:

Thanks for all your comments. That oil cooler is not a bad idea. Also a transmission cooler if there is not already one there. Just the added fluid volume will help relieve overheating.

10-08-2005, 06:28 PM
The 1/2, 3/4, and 1 ton ratings on pick ups are below the true capacity of modern pickups. Look at the maximum rated load molded onto the tire sidewalls. Add them up. Go to a public scale and get your empty weight with full fuel tanks, and subtract your empty weight from the total weight rating of the tires.

Flatline's Up!
10-08-2005, 06:29 PM
Nice looking truck/camper combo man... I really like em.

Dif. Check into a trans cooler and you may need to drive in 3 instead of OD (4) or whatever Ford marks it... an oil cooler would be a def. plus as well.

Also it's a good thing to double check your tires on the sidewall and make sure they are up to the task. If not, you may want to get some higher load/higher pressure tires for at least the rear.

Good luck and let us know how it goes!

Duct Taper
10-08-2005, 09:21 PM
Carl, just to clarify your comment are you saying the 1/2 ton pickup can carry more than 1/2 ton if the tires are up to it?

Flatline's Up!
10-08-2005, 10:55 PM
that tire theory would completly discount all the suspension, brakes, trans, engine, frame etc that go into heavier duty vehicles.

If you drive a 1/2 ton truck overloaded and feel how it sluggishly moves, and how your butt grabs the upholstry when you try and stop, changing the tires to higher rating tires won't imporve a dang thing. You'll still be scary and scared driving it.

10-09-2005, 09:24 AM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Carl, just to clarify your comment are you saying the 1/2 ton pickup can carry more than 1/2 ton if the tires are up to it?</font>

No, I was stating that original equipment tires are usually rated at pretty close to the capacity of the vehicle. If the tires have been upgraded to a higher rating, then this theory doesn't work. Your best bet is to check the owners manual or look for a sticker usually located on the drivers side door frame for the GAWR (gross axle weight ratings). Add the GAWRs for front and rear and subtract the empty weight to find your load capacity. My one ton dually's front GAWR is 4500lbs., rear is 7500lbs, total 12000. The empty weight is around 8000lbs., so load capacity is 4000lbs., or TWO tons, double the "one ton" rating these pickups are normally refered to as. I have upgraded my tires and they add up to 17000lbs. I didn't check them until after I posted earlier. Again, the best bet is the owners manual, or the sticker on the vehicle (usually the door frame).

10-09-2005, 07:51 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Carl:
Again, the best bet is the owners manual, or the sticker on the vehicle (usually the door frame). </font>

That's the ONLY thing that matters. It doesn't matter what kind of mods you make, if you get in an accident, and it is found that you're over the GVW or GCVW, guess what? No insurance, and you are at fault.

10-09-2005, 08:58 PM
We used to haul a big camper in a F150 supercab with overloaders in the back. Worked Ok, but... it was moderately unstable in wind, and the gas milage sucked.

I wouldn't consider anything less than a 3/4 ton.


10-09-2005, 09:18 PM
I hit the side of a wrecker in an '80 chevy p/u. Pretzled the frame. Insurance company wanted to straighten it, I took the money and bought a '66 Vette. A year later I found a 74 3/4 ton camper special that was rusted halfway up the doors. Complete with 454 and 400 turbo, 13 springs to each side, etc.
Stripped both to the bare frame rails, except the rear springs. The camper special springs were longer, and I didn't want to redrill the spring hangers. Got it running and sold everything else.
Everything else fit, but you have to expect that from Chevrolet.
David from jax

10-09-2005, 09:26 PM
Ducttaper ive never had a problem with my ford 6 cyl half ton but recently i bought a old mint shape 460 ford f250 with propane dual fuel conversion. I removed the air bag kit from the half and installed them onto the three quarter ton. Nice riding truck now with my propane at .50 cents a litre im driving it more than my 6 cylinder. It has better brtakes also.

10-09-2005, 10:26 PM
One item that has not been mentioned. With a 1/2 ton the rear axle, the axle shafts carry the weight. On the 3/4 ton Super Duties, the hubs have two large bearings (vs one small bearing) that go directly to the axle housing. The axle shaft carry no weight. Additionally, the brakes are bigger, the anti-sway bar is bigger (important with a camper).

Can you carry a camper with a 1/2 ton, sure. 1500 is very light, compared to my old Kit. I assume that is dry weight. Remember to add the weight of your gear, water, optional equipment such as 12v battery and propane bottles. If you are using the camper regularly, you will be happy with the larger truck.

[This message has been edited by JPR (edited 10-09-2005).]

10-10-2005, 01:20 AM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Remember to add the weight of your gear, water, optional equipment such as 12v battery and propane bottles.</font>

Remember to add the items your wife packs, that at least doubles the weight of our camper http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

The full floating axles on the 3/4 ton and larger pickups do add piece of mind when you're heavily loaded.

10-10-2005, 01:40 AM
Heh. My '59 Land Rover with 88" wheelbase has full floating axles with tapered roller wheel bearings about 3" in diameter. It is supposedly rated at 1/2 ton but with 12 ply 16.5" tires and 8 leaf springs it doesn't sag no matter how much I put in the back, including 3/4 yard of gravel which is about 1800 lbs. Empty it rides like it has no suspension since it only weighs 2000 lbs.

10-10-2005, 05:44 AM
The last thing most people think of is the tyres.
If you plan to maximise your load,ensure that the tyres are up to the job. 4 ply wont really cut it. A quiet talk with your local tyre shop should see you right. Stop the accident before it stops you.

Duct Taper
10-11-2005, 06:15 AM
Well, I got the truck and looked at all the stickers, owner's manual, etc and it answered a lot of questions but not all. The tires have a 2200 lb rating, the front axle 3100, rear axle 3800, weight of truck about 5000 with the GVWR 6000. The sum of the axles are about 1000 higher than the GVWR. That means the axles can carry 1/2 ton more than the truck is rated for. So, the axles and tires can handle the 1500 lb camper with no trouble but it puts the load 500 over the GVWR. ???

It sounds like the GVWR is rated conservative for some reason. Or maybe they just added 1/2 ton to the weight of the empty truck to get the rating, which would not allow for any extra weight like gas, driver, or Momma and Her Stuff! Doesn't make sense.

This is a 1998, and the GVWR for the same truck in 2005 is 6900. Maybe the difference is in the springs or maybe they just realized that their arithmetic was flawed. This truck does have aftermarket overload springs so I think I will just load up and see how it handles and brakes. My insurance man said there would be no problem and I drive a lot more conservative now than I used to when I was young. And after hearing Madman's tale I am feeling kinda like a wimp, so I am going to stop worrying and just check my tire pressure then hit the road. I am satisfied that the truck is capable of handling the load as long as I drive conservatively and keep aware of braking distances. Thanks again everybody!

Duct Taper
10-11-2005, 09:03 AM
Correction: Front axle 3200, rear axle 3500. Couldn't read my own writing, but the total was close!

Alistair Hosie
10-11-2005, 04:52 PM
This may seem like a daft question what are airbags for on a truck do you mean air suspension (Why Bags??? Alistair

10-11-2005, 05:30 PM
Alistair, see here: