King of Beasts: Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes 11 II

Photography by Evan Sears,

Any time we try to put together a road-trip comparison test with a couple (or more) pickup trucks, it doesn't matter how much planning we do, there are always logistical and situational issues we never see coming. Thankfully, we had a small crew of people who were flexible and extremely capable of troubleshooting and accommodating every curve ball with a thoughtful patience befitting a saint. Which was good, because I was doing enough stressing and worrying for the entire team.

Our recent King of Beasts Challenge took about 10 days if you include the time it took to get the 2013 Ford F-450 Super Duty to Denver (from Los Angeles) and back. We had the 2013 Ram 3500 Heavy Duty delivered to Denver, but we had to get the big Ford to the Ram before we could hitch up our two brand-new Load Trail trailers.

Thankfully, two of our three drivers had commercial driver licenses and the third had the paperwork to prove he was in the middle of getting his certification. Not that that would carry much weight if he had been pulled over by a state trooper, but it made us feel better. Of course, that meant we had to keep records and logs of our towing and how much time we spent behind the wheel during each of our test days.

The first thing we noticed when hooking up the gooseneck trailers was that, in order to accommodate the improved towing capability of the 2013 one-ton trucks, Ram included larger bed hooks with its new factory-optioned in-bed gooseneck trailer ball. Unfortunately, those new mounting loops would not accommodate the standard-sized chain hooks that came with our trailer. The receiver loops in the bed were too thick (though much stronger) to allow the normal chain hooks to fit. Oddly, it would have taken a smaller chain hook (and we presume it would have to be stronger as well) to fit the thicker bed loops. As a result, we had to create our own fix using some extra-heavy-duty chain and trailer clamps. Not ideal, but necessary.


Trailer Troubles

Behind the Scenes 3 II


It wasn't too long after we got both trailers hitched up and on the road that we saw a little smoke coming out of one of the trailer's side storage doors. We stopped to let the smoke clear and discovered that one of the battery cables had worked itself loose, creating some arcing across and through several wire looms and battery connectors. After several on-the-spot wiring repairs and a quick check with our circuit tester, we realized the battery wasn't holding a charge. Next stop: Wal-Mart for a new battery and, while we were there, we purchased a few 2.5-gallon boxes of diesel exhaust fluid.

We were able to keep a close watch on the DEF levels on the Ram because it had a dedicated DEF gauge, but the Ford had a hard-to-find screen that didn't give levels, just "low" or "level OK" readouts. On a related note, when pulling heavy loads, use the big truck stops because they're likely to have DEF pumps right next to the diesel pumps. Unfortunately, due to the small pump nozzle and DEF tank inlets, you can expect the process to be frustratingly slow with many shut-offs. We learned that you can ask the cashier for a magnet ring to slip over the pump nozzle, which makes the process go much faster. Better yet, you might want to get your own.


Behind the Scenes 10 II


Once on the road with all the integrated trailer brakes properly set, we were off to load our trailers. Frisco Fireplace & Stone in Frisco, Colo., was able to calculate exact pallet weights for us and load our trailers for proper long-haul distribution.

Both trailers worked fine as we left the Rocky Mountains and headed to Las Vegas and then onto Davis Dam, which straddles the Arizona/Nevada border, for acceleration and brake-touch testing. And it wasn't until the day after Davis Dam testing, when we were headed to back to the Rockies for high-altitude steep-grade testing, that we discovered more problems with our bed plug connection on the Ram 3500 that interfered with our trailer brake functions.

At different points in our tests we needed a few special wiring fixes to bypass what we thought was another faulty wiring line; we also needed to rig up some cable holders to keep the wires from binding or from being pulled out during tight cornering. Without Kent Sundling from, our King of Beast test would have died several times over. We even had a small hydraulic brake line fitting pop on us — we're guessing from all the vibrations the air suspension had to deal with over some miserable roads through Arizona and Utah. One Friday night in Holbrook, Ariz., was devoted to having the local auto repair store find us a brake-line fitting that was close to what we needed.


Funny Photogs

Behind the Scenes 5 II


The funny thing about photographers is that it doesn't matter how serious or minor a repair is, they're always looking for ways to get new shots and crazy angles of our test subjects. As a consequence, video producer/cameraman Matt Avery and photographer/director Evan Sears could be found scrambling up hillsides and balancing precariously on trailer cross-members to get interesting views of both pickups and trailers. Sometimes watching them was funny, and at other times it was unnerving.

We knew many of our fixes would only be temporary as we limped into Grand Junction, Colo., headed to our Eisenhower Pass grade testing. We arrived with one completely wounded trailer sporting wiring and brake-line issues we couldn't repair completely. Thankfully the experts at Jayhawk Trailers were able to help us that evening, replacing some wiring, a few clamps and topping off our brake fluid. It was all done by 4:30 a.m. That made for a rough day on the road, but by the end of that evening we had most of our head-to-head testing complete.

The following day our Ford F-450 was headed back to Los Angeles. In all, we put more than 4,000 miles on that Platinum trim F-450, getting it to and from Denver from L.A. (and that doesn't include the 1,600 test miles) — but we warned Ford this wasn't going to be an average truck loan. In terms of fuel economy, we got 16 mpg from the big Ford cruising at all posted limits during our empty long haul to and from Denver.

Since we had a little more time with the Ram, Sundling was able to head back to our friends at Frisco Fireplace & Stone, where they loaded the Ram with another 4,000 pounds of payload to do some max-limit testing on the Eisenhower grade. And nothing surprising happened, other than the Ram 3500 HD handled the 28,000-plus-pound load better than some other HD trucks we've tested on that same grade. Yes, Ram's max towing numbers are real.


Finally Finished

Behind the Scenes 2 II


In the end, this test was a tough one, becoming a bigger battle than we expected. But if that's what it takes to get the head-to-head data to you (and you can bet both manufacturers have looked at our KOB story closely as well), then it was all worth it. We want to continue testing new trucks to their limits to see if what the manufacturers are bragging about holds true in the real world.

This test showed us that the 2013 Ram 3500 HD changes are huge and that it is more than capable of withstanding PUTC truck-testing punishment. But don't expect Ford to sit back and do nothing; we think the Blue Oval will respond with big changes soon. Those who read our 2013 State Fair of Texas coverage know Ford is already working on a new F-450 and a much stronger and more powerful Power Stroke. And we can't wait to test it.


Behind the Scenes 4 II

Behind the Scenes Ram Loops

Behind the Scenes 6 II

Behind the Scenes end II


No Chevrolet. Not a Bowtie truck to be found. I think Chevy is doomed.

go troll somewhere else toddy!

Get a life buddy.

Unfortunately, due to the small pump nozzle and DEF tank inlets, you can expect the process to be frustratingly slow with many shut-offs. We learned that you can ask the cashier for a magnet ring to slip over the pump nozzle, which makes the process go much faster. Better yet, you might want to get your own.

- another reason/hassle not to buy a diesel.

Stay thirsty my friends.

Do yon thing gm don't have a surprise for ford and dodge????

I have a ford fill spout that I reuse to fill the def. Rinse and keep. That is the trick.

All Guts

All Glory

Class leading Ram

What I'm about the write might put some noses out of joint.

These HDs are fantastically poweful and can tow very well.

But......why not buy a truck designed to move the stuff around?

The cost of buying an HD, then the cost of a trailer to move large weights must cost more than just buying a truck to do the work for you.

Don't you think it's a little inefficient?

Like I've stated the trucks are great, but from a business perspective I'm looking at this.

A MDT would do the same, cheaper, quicker and safer.


I think for a business what you are saying is true. The trucks used in this test are meant for many things. But with most families, the beat up old Dodge Dart is used to haul the trash to the dump. :>)

What is a shame is that this test would have given an example of Urea mileage for loaded and unloaded trucks. To bad they have not reported on this. Urea in this test came to about 7.5 cents per mile. That's a huge expense when you also consider the inconvenience.

Buyers of these vehicles need to keep pushing for a different technology that returns diesel to the economical work truck of the past.

Except for International, I think you have to put up with Urea from all diesel Manufacturers.

Big Al,

One thing you have to realize is that, in the states, many people are small business owners, with many of those being sole proprietors.

Their pickup isn't just their daily work vehicle, but it's also often their main family vehicle. It's more than just a business truck (hence the popularity of crew-cabs).

Even for those that have a small fleet, it often actually ends up being cheaper to just buy a pickup and trailer than it does to have both a personal car and a business MDT.

This is due to the way our insurance, registration, and tax structures are organized. The amount of money we pay is heavily based on GVWR (the truck weight alone), not GCWR (truck and trailer weight). I pay a lot less to have an F350 with a fifth-wheel trailer than I do to have an F800 dumptruck without a trailer. Even though they essentially both move about the same weight (around 30,000lbs).

This is also why Hummer SUVs got so popular years ago. Because of their GVWR they could be written off as business expense, but yet weren't heavy enough to incur the additional costs of an MDT/HDT. They exploited a loophole designed to help farmers and small contractors.

Paul810 and BigAl, there are many of us fulltime rver's who need big towing capability but have zero desire to use a MDT to get around sightseeing, not to mention parking the thing in the grocery store parking lot. We have been fulltime rv'ers for 11 years and are among a couple million other fulltime rv'ers in this country. Our Ram 3500 works very well for us but a MDT is not something I want to deal with on a daily basis.

@Paul810 and buddylam

We have many small businesses as well.

It's just we tend to buy a truck. Even a carpenter will buy a LDT with a 16' tray and have a dual cab with a trailer and wife drives a SUV or car, sometimes the wife gets the ute.

Farmers here buy trucks and drive around in SUVs and utes.

The truck is a tool for work and the SUV/ute is a tool for small jobs and play ie, fishing, hunting, camping, 4x4ing, etc.

I wonder why PUTC missed this big one?

Seems Ford in the US might use our Falcon instead of the global Ranger.

Mark, can you investigate this one.

@BAF0 - Our full-size class of pickups replace everything from medium duty, commercial trucks, down to small pickups and sedans. It would $UCK not to have them and have to take a big downgrade or much bigger upgrade. We couldn't picture life without full-sizers. Small, family owned farms and businesses, which are the backbone of the US economy, rely on their efficiency and economy. As in less trips to town and less vehicles owned.

If I want mis information I will go to Nth Korea or what ever planet you live on.

We have the same here with RVer's that even use your HDs. I can understand that.

It's just from a business perspective I would have thought running a truck, then running a smaller pickup/ute would save cash.

How much 'extra' is needed to have that capability. How often is that capability not used and costing you money?

If you use that capability often enough then a truck would be the better option.

Other than recreational purposes these trucks would only be bought for work.

@BAF0 - Medium duty, work trucks $UCK for running around and everyday chores that a full-size pickup would do. Even on perfectly smooth pavement, MDT's rock hard suspension will drive you insane. They're work trucks with basic plastic/vinyl cabs you have to climb into. Never mind the horrible MPG. You don't want to spend any more time in them than you absolutely have to. Full-size pickups are the perfect tool and loved by America. The rest of the world can pound sand.

@Kim DiM Sim
Have you have been in to many North Korean MDTs.

@DeverMike/Paul/Tom Lemon/Greg Baird/TRX4Tom/Dave/Hemi V8/Tom Terrific/sandman 4x4/lautenslager/zveria/Bob/US Truck Driver/Glenn/Jason/Hemi Rampage/smartest truck guy/Maxx/SuperDuty37/Ken/Ron/johnny doe/jim/ALL1 or whoever you want to call yourself.

Quit the crap, really.

It's getting long in the tooth.

You want to debate, but it has to be on your terms.

Learn to debate with good information, then we might be able to have a decent debate.

Opinions are good, but if they are only your view to support the UAW, then how good are they. Look at what you guys have done to Detroit.

Terror tactics (union tactics) don't work on me.

If PUTC wants the UAW or whatever to control this site I suppose it's their decision.

It's not kids like I've been told by PUTC.

They don't seem to care. So this will go on.

@BAF0 - I don't know or care about N Korean MDTs, but we're gonna keep on enjoying and loving our full-size trucks long after you've given up on trying to talk us out of them. Good luck on that, mate. I don't know what's in it for you, but keep on hating, if it works for you.

More advanced than ford and gm

@Kim DiM Sim
You don't even know about Yugo's ;)

Or it appears anything to do with trucks.

With your misinformation I thought you were taught by the Nth Korean Bureau of Information.

RAM ANNOUNCEMENT: we use coil springs because rail cars do... We use air bags because big rigs do..............NEXT BIG RAM ANNOUNCEMENT.... We will power our trucks by steam just like the railroad used to power their trains..... Guts ,Glory, lots of water for the new STEAM MAGNUM!

Speaking of misinformation Al, did you even read the article you posted the link to? That truck is a rendering by the writer who proposes it be based off the C1 platform. He said inspiration came from the Atlas concept, Fusion sedan, and F series trucks. Apparently though, it has nothing to do with FMC.

"Posted by: nlp | May 20, 2013 10:39:16 AM
trust me, I have seen many HEMI issues when they first debued back in 03-04, from valve train trouble to mds actuator issues (mds actuators go bad quite often, actually, in 05 and up Hemis, esp in the Rams and Durango/Aspen trucks, plus many oil leaks in these trucks. As a whole, the Hemi is pretty good, but all engines have there growing pains. Look at the new Pentastar 3.6 v-6 (the engine in my personal 300 with 8 speed zf trans) I love that car, but I have seen many many Grand Cherokees and Wranglers and Journeys and Caravan/Town and Countrys with misfire problems. The fix is to replace the affected cylinder head. They are on backorder from Chrysler, and when I worked for Chrysler, an awful lot of them were being done. So many that we would keep 6-10 in stock, but it was hard to keep stock because of this widespread issue. I pray my 300 does not have this problem (I do have a lifetime Maxcare warranty, so if it does happen, I am covered) but I don't want my beautiful babys engine to be taken apart."

"but I have seen many many turbos replaced on a few 5.9 but many many 6.7 turbo cummins go well as many many many many many injectors, injector pumps, all types of stuff. (I used to manage a mopar service dept in a PA dealer) I have seen many mds solenoids go bad, and that is an expensive fix, and valve train issues with Hemis aboud, from valves that burn, or springs that break. I have seen quite a few sludgey Hemis too, and looking at those people service records showed they REPLACED THEIR OIL AND FILTER REGULARLY. Put it this way, none of them are perfect and all manufactures have troubles with there my comment about the 3.6 pentastar head issues causing misfires.....that is a super widespread issue"


Rotting and

"Darcy of Glastonbury, CT on May 27, 2013

Woke up at 1:45 AM to the sound of a horn from a car in the driveway. I thought someone was breaking into the A6, but upon looking out the kitchen door, I saw that the 2000 Ford 150 XLT was on fire. The hood was on fire, so we moved the A6 out of the way and called 911. The truck had been parked since 4:00 PM the previous afternoon, with no flammable items inside and no noticeable irregularities with the operation of the truck. We have no idea why the fire started, but the truck and the contents are a total loss."

C heapest

H eap

E ver

V isioned

Y et

Lol @ cheapest heap ever visioned yet... Gotta laugh at these acronyms they're so diverse.


That one should be Cheby's for that mighty 5.3 vortex. LMAO!

C an

H ear

E very

V alve

Y ell

Yes, I did, how is that misinformation? I haven't claimed it will be something.

It would be a nice vehicle for the NA market, but not probable. It doesn't fit into Ford's global plan. Also a FWD version wouldn't be on the cards.

That rendering plus a comment and link t the other day by another blogger on this site about Ford having new F Series in the near future would indicate that something hopefully is going on a Ford.

If you actually read the article it is also inspired by the Falcon as the rendering is based on.

I would like Mark to investigate what's going on at Ford.





FORD backwards =


Al, your comment "Seems Ford in the US might use our Falcon instead of the global Ranger" is misinformation, because nowhere did the article imply that. Also, he said the layout might look familiar to the falcon, not that the rendering was based on it. I read what might be the other article you were talking about, Ford having 8 new F series trucks coming, and that article never mentioned anything about it. Guess we will have to wait and see.

I don't remember asking you to 'look' into things, unless you really are Mark.

I'll ask you first in the future for any information I require or want.

Thanks for you concern anyway :)

@Tom Lemon/DenverMike/TRX-4 Tom/Tom and all the other detractors,

The more you push the more I will become resolute.

What I find intriguing is that you have labelled me a midsize zealot, when in fact I don't support anything.

I give midsize feedback because you guys don't have what we have.

You seem to talk about midsizers much more than I do, you must very interested in them.

Give it up, between all of you I don't think you are convincing.

It's all well and good to be loyal. But loyalty can only go so far.

When there is a plethora of facts and data supporting an argument it becomes rather boring. Sort of like re-inventing the wheel, if you have heard of that phrase.

Most of the time the impression I'm gaining is that I'm debating the same person, but with different names.

Post what you want, I have proven all of you are just ignorant and fearful of what you deem the unknown.

Our country went more or less what you are going through now. You have nothing to worry about. No matter what happens in your vehicle market there will always be some form of light commercial vehicle.

How does a story about the "misadventures" involved in running a shootout turn into a brand fan boy bashfest?

It is interesting to see what kind of troubles they had. Goes to show that one should carefully pre-trip any new equipment.

Comment from BAF0, RE: "@DeverMike/Paul/Tom Lemon/Greg Baird/TRX4Tom/Dave/Hemi V8/Tom Terrific/sandman 4x4/lautenslager/zveria/Bob/US Truck Driver/Glenn/Jason/Hemi Rampage/smartest truck guy/Maxx/SuperDuty37/Ken/Ron/johnny doe/jim/ALL1 or whoever you want to call yourself......................."

BAF0, that's all ya got? You're really gonna ride that out to the end? You're a bigger fool than I thought. I really under estimated you. And you're a totally embarrassment to the Small Pickup Mafia. Even your Ex partner, RobertR wants nothing to do with you. Oh well, I guess there's always Lou........... (for how long???) Even Jeff S thinks you're an absolute joke at this point. The SPM alliance keeps shrinking ever smaller...

Al, you can ask me for information that is correct and not biased. The remarks you just made show just how much of a hypocrite you are.

More than likely most the fuel burned by these trucks will be while they are unloaded. I would have really liked to have seen milage numbers for unloaded trucks. They mentioned the 16 MPG the Ford acheived while unloaded. Seems pretty bad.
I like the data given by this test, but there is much more to consider when buying one of these trucks. I'd like to see more than just how well a truck configured to optimize its performance for max tow rating duties does at that single task.

"Small Pickup Mafia"
I'll drive to the next meeting in my F150 supercrew.

Mikey - what did you say you did for a living?

It isn't comedy or anything intellectual.

You have proven that fact multiple times.

@Lou_BC - Another Ex member of the Small Pickup Mafia that shall remain nameless (DWFields/Vulpine), drove an '89 F-150 to the meetings. It's not just that you guys are hypocrites, but you only want the trucks that aren't for sale here. The repulsive Tacoma and Frontier must be pure garbage compared to the Mahindras, Protons, and Tatas you would supposedly buy if they were for sale in the US/Canada. Even BAFO admits he would own a full-size truck if he lived in the States. But now it's just yourself and BAF0 in the SPM treehouse. You can't leave him now...

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