To accomplish this, the truck was redesigned in the areas important to capability. 'The axles have been beefed up substantially,' says O'Connor. 'The springs are more robust. The frame is much stronger. It is designed specifically to carry loads of this magnitude.'
The TowBoss package uses a unique powertrain combination. 'We took a 430 limited-slip rear end and mated it to the diesel automatic powertrain,' explains O'Connor. 'That's how we got to 19,200 lbs., because all of the other systems of the truck were capable of achieving 19,200 lbs.'
Keep It Under Control
When towing heavy loads, control is just as important as the ability to get the load moving. 'When we looked at enhancing the trucks, obviously maximum towing and maximum payload were important,' says O'Connor. 'But the other piece of the puzzle is control. You can't have all of the capability without being able to control these huge loads.'
This is where Ford's TowCommand System ' which includes an integrated brake controller, TorqShift automatic transmission with a tow/haul mode, adjustable trailer towing mirrors and an upgraded braking system ' enters the picture. 'The idea is that all of these four systems work in conjunction with each other to provide maximum control,' says O'Connor.
The integrated trailer brake controller is the only factory-installed and warranted electronic trailer brake controller on the market. 'It is integrated into the dash,' says O'Connor. 'You don't have an external box screwed into your dash with wires hanging down that you are banging your knee against.'
Ford market research indicates that 70% of Super Duty owners currently install aftermarket trailer brake controllers. Unlike these aftermarket controllers, the integrated controller uses actual braking pressure, measured inside the vehicle's master cylinder, to know how much braking force the driver means to apply. 'It varies the amount of voltage to the trailer brake depending on how much pressure you put on the brake pedal,' says O'Connor. 'It is proportional braking.'
The trailer brake controller can adapt its operation based on information from the tow vehicle's anti-lock braking system. 'It is tied into the anti-lock brake system,' says O'Connor. 'So in the event of a panic stop where you hit your brakes hard and the ABS kicks into action, the trailer brake controller knows it and reduces the amount of voltage to the trailer brakes. That allows you to maintain control during the panic stop.'
By automatically reducing brake force at slower speeds and lower brake pedal pressures, this system lets the driver creep forward in traffic, stop smoothly at intersections and maneuver in parking lots. At higher speeds, more aggressive trailer braking is possible without driver adjustment. 'It really allows you to have very controlled, smooth stops because the truck and the trailer are working together as one system,' says O'Connor.
And the benefits of the integrated system are available at the same cost as the much less sophisticated aftermarket brake controllers. 'We are offering it at about $200,' says O'Connor.
The display panel on the control unit shows the amount of force being sent to the trailer as the brakes are applied. Audible and visual warnings alert the driver to any malfunctions, including if the trailer wiring becomes disconnected.
Ford has also expanded availability of its TorqShift automatic transmission, which incorporates the tow/haul mode, to all Super Duty models equipped with automatic transmissions. Thus, gas-powered trucks are now available with the TorqShift transmission.
There are benefits in both acceleration and deceleration. 'When you engage the tow/haul mode, you are telling the truck you have a heavy load,' says O'Connor. 'It not only changes the shift points so that it holds a gear longer, but it will provide engine braking.'
When going down hill, the transmission and the engine work together to help keep the vehicle from gaining speed. This helps reduce brake wear.
When travelling up a hill, the transmission will hold a gear longer when in the tow/haul mode. The engine remains in the power band and there is less hunting. 'It makes driving much easier,' says O'Connor.