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F-350 on Washboard Dirt Roads

  #1  
Old 07-10-2018, 10:39 PM
Foamster
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F-350 on Washboard Dirt Roads

I am ordering an F-350 RC or SC SRW 4WD soon for 2019 and would like to improve the ride both on the street and on washboard dirt roads.

Options: 1) Larger tire/wheels, 2) Air Springs, or 3) Kelderman 4-Link Rear Air Suspension in the rear? How about Kelderman Air Springs in the front? Kelderman front and rear would be quite expensive, so would have to make an extreme improvement.

I had a 2012 SC SRW Diesel and wished it had a softer ride, even with my 3,000# Hallmark camper. With Firestone air bags at about 80 psi ride did improve on the street, but washboard was very rough, even dropping tire pressure. What approach would you take?

 
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Old 07-10-2018, 11:15 PM
BowtieConvert
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Congratulations on your upcoming purchase. These are very nice trucks and you will love it. Is it gas or diesel? Have you ridden in one yet? I don't know what your baseline is for comparison. You may be satisfied with a few pounds of air removed from your tires. The options you listed should be effective in achieving a smoother than stock ride but what's it worth? I guess it depends on how much $$ you're willing to part with. I have one and the ride really doesn't bother me. But, I'm not very mechanically inclined and pretty lazy in my old age so I am not as picky as some of the younger more talented individuals on here. I hope you find your happy medium.
 
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Old 07-10-2018, 11:22 PM
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As I mentioned, I had a 2012 SC SRW Diesel, so my guess is that the 2019 won't be a huge improvement, since there are still leaf springs. LMK if that is wrong.
As I mentioned, washboard was very rough, even dropping tire pressure.
 
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Old 07-10-2018, 11:40 PM
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Well, it is a HD pickup truck and I assume since you have a 3000# truck camper you need the full capability of a 350. Do you live on a dirt road or travel them often? It seems you may be forced to put up with a little of the "necessary evil" to have a vehicle capable of toting that camper. What we view as "rough" now is limo-like compared to the stone age back when these bad boys had leaf springs on all 4 corners. That was brutal. Again, good luck and hopefully you will be able to find a solution that wont be too complicated or costly.
 
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Old 07-11-2018, 12:20 AM
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Washboard gravel

Whenever I encounter washboarded gravel roads I switch to 4x4 high. The front wheel traction keeps the rear from getting squirrelly and seems to smooth out the ride. I have an F-350 Lariat SC SB diesel with the payload package so I expect a somewhat stiff ride. I asked my wife what she thought. She replied “It’s not bad, a little stiff, but it’s a truck.”
 
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Old 07-11-2018, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by rcorkum4 View Post
Whenever I encounter washboarded gravel roads I switch to 4x4 high. The front wheel traction keeps the rear from getting squirrelly and seems to smooth out the ride. I have an F-350 Lariat SC SB diesel with the payload package so I expect a somewhat stiff ride. I asked my wife what she thought. She replied “It’s not bad, a little stiff, but it’s a truck.”
^^^ This. One of the things that contributes to a harsh ride on gravel roads is the rear tires spinning and causing axle hop. That's what creates the slight washboard effect on the surface. Using 4wd instead of 2wd reduces the wheelspin and thus the axle hop.

If you are carrying a substantial load then softer springs are not an option. Leaf springs don't ride as smoothly as coils or airbags on washboard surfaces as a general rule. But the most significant element on washboards is shocks. I would upgrade the shocks before making any other modifications. You will want the improved shocks to go with any suspension upgrades anyway so you might as well start with them and see if that provides the improvement you are looking for and then go from there.

 
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Old 07-11-2018, 04:53 PM
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Agreed, Clubwagon. I would start with the shocks first. Plenty of forums on this site regarding shocks. I like Bilsteins and Fox's.
 
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Old 07-11-2018, 08:22 PM
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Surprised at that

I'm surprised that people think shocks will make much difference because replacing the shocks on my 2012 with Rancho adjustable's was only a slight improvement. The Firestone airbags made a much, much bigger improvement. So I was expecting a recommendation of bigger tires with lower pressures, or perhaps some comments on Kelderman Air Springs. But shocks? Really? I want to be open to suggestions but that was a surprise. Any feedback on Kelderman Air Springs...big/low profile tires?
 
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Old 07-11-2018, 10:59 PM
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My 350 is all over the road on the washboard for sure. I'll have to try the 4wd high next time. Seems way worse than my 2017 3500 cummins I had prior to this truck.
 
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Old 07-12-2018, 01:51 AM
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These trucks are designed to carry loads and tow things. As a result, their suspensions are stiff to support the weight. Changing the shocks will help quite a bit and would likely be the best single change you can make. Changing the springs will do wonders but you'll get a much better ride at the expenses of load and possibly towing capacity.

Check out the rear suspension difference between a Raptor and any F-150 non-Raptor
 
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Old 07-12-2018, 04:02 AM
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Definitely do not want "low pro" tires, less side wall=stiffer.

Shocks will really make a difference.

Speed makes a huge difference, I'm on washboard dirt roads very often and there is nothing that makes me pissed like getting behind some idiot doing 12mph on heavy washboard. I mean just shaking their vehicle to pieces.

Good shocks, soft tires, and finding the right speed to get on top of it.
 
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Old 07-12-2018, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Foamster View Post
I'm surprised that people think shocks will make much difference because replacing the shocks on my 2012 with Rancho adjustable's was only a slight improvement. The Firestone airbags made a much, much bigger improvement. So I was expecting a recommendation of bigger tires with lower pressures, or perhaps some comments on Kelderman Air Springs. But shocks? Really? I want to be open to suggestions but that was a surprise. Any feedback on Kelderman Air Springs...big/low profile tires?

Wheel control over a washboard surface is almost all shock. Sure, leaf springs tend to do some funny things. Air springs can be adjusted to conditions but if you are carrying a load, you need the spring rate to keep the suspension off the bump stops.

A larger OD tire will reduce the tire's interaction with small road surface irregularities so they provide a smoother ride by default. Taller sidewalls have more area to absorb impact harshness. Lower air pressure reduces the tire's spring rate and reduces its impact harshness. So yes, do all of those things and expect some improvement. But small, high frequency wheel dampening from an off-road specialty shock will be your biggest gainer.
 
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Old 07-12-2018, 01:03 PM
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Last week I drove up to the the Gouin Reservoir in Quebec via Mont-Laurier. 5 hours (~175 miles) each way on dirt roads full of washboard corners. I have a 2017 F350 gasser. It was a rough ride. I set the front tires at 50 PSI and the rear at 55. We averaged only 35 miles an hour and got passed by lots of locals driving at paved highway speeds (60+MPH). All half ton pickups or smaller. I had no choice but to slow down when I saw washboard in the corners. I could run 50 miles an hour in long sections then slow when the road was rougher. The few times I drove through the corner washboard areas at speed it was hairy as we had no steering control. I had replaced the steering dampener before the trip with Ranch 5000 single dampener. There is actually a posted speed limit on the road of 70 KPH, so 35 MPH average was not so far off.

My advise is replace the shocks if you are going to drive washboard often.
 
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Old 07-13-2018, 02:07 PM
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Thanks Everyone,
It sounds like the consensus is off-road specialty shocks. This is pretty fast and relatively cheap so I’ll try that first. Lower tire pressures, as well, but that did not help so much in the past.
When I said “Larger tire/wheels” I meant taller sidewalls, not lower profile. So I should have said larger tires/smaller wheels (if possible). Perhaps 35”? Any opinions here?
 
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Old 07-14-2018, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Foamster View Post
Thanks Everyone,
It sounds like the consensus is off-road specialty shocks. This is pretty fast and relatively cheap so I’ll try that first. Lower tire pressures, as well, but that did not help so much in the past.
When I said “Larger tire/wheels” I meant taller sidewalls, not lower profile. So I should have said larger tires/smaller wheels (if possible). Perhaps 35”? Any opinions here?
I think something very important that hasn't been mentioned yet is the frame of the truck. You are coming from the previous generation frame, which is an open c-channel configuration. The new frame is fully boxed, and quite a bit stiffer. Because of the this, the suspension components, especially the shocks, can do their job far better than before. The ride and handling in my 2018 is about 18,763 times better than my 2011 (that's an exact number).

Regarding your questions, I have zero experience with the air ride system you mentioned, so I cannot comment. I do however have experience with a wide range of tire sizes and shock configurations. Let's start with tires. generally speaking, the taller the sidewall, the more flex, the softer the "felt" ride will be. However, a lot depends on the load rating and sidewall construction of the tire. For example, if you run a michelin ltx and a cooper stt pro tire of identical size on the same truck back to back, I guarantee the ltx will have a softer ride. The sidewalls on off road tires are typically stiffer and built up with tread blocks for extra bite and resistance to puncture from rocks. It should also be noted, that often times required air pressures will be lower in tires that are wider because they have a larger contact patch.

As for the shocks, there is quite a large range of aftermarket items you can choose from, with many models by many brands. The best "bang for the buck" IMO is the bilstein 5100 series. There are far better shocks out there, but these are rather inexpensive and make a noticeable difference.
 

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