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Old 02-22-2014, 12:05 PM   #1
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Default Offroad Work Truck: 2013 EcoBoost FX4

This thread is about the build-up of my new FX4 into a capable off-road work truck. Hereís the background:

Last month, I purchased my first new Ford vehicleóa brand new 2013 EcoBoost FX4 with all the bells and whistles. In the first month on the street itís been great; Iím getting better than expected mileage, the power of the EcoBoost is fantastic, and the ride and build quality is even better. I truly love driving itÖ

Öbut I hadnít yet taken it off-road, which is the primary reason I purchased this truck in the first place. See, I have an old adobe project cabin that Iím rebuilding on weekends. The cabin is about fifty years old, and is deep in the Arizona desert on the side of a remote mountain. Itís been in the family for all that time (my in-laws built the place), but itís getting long in the tooth, and weíre now getting the occasional break-in by illegal aliens and drug-runners crossing through this stretch of high desert. As a result, Iím upgrading security, re-doing fencing, reconstructing reinforced outbuildings (shed, outhouse), and generally fixing up all the little things that have gone neglected thru the years. Itís a labor of love, but itís also hard, hard workóand requires a serious vehicle.

The place is remote, so I have to haul everything in. Getting there from my home means 20 miles of high-speed two-lane asphalt highway, then 15 miles of undulating washboard dirt road, followed by half a mile of sandy wash bottom traversing, then ~5 miles of steep climbing rough single track BLM road with lots of overgrowth, switchbacks and rocks. Then finally itís a 2 mile stretch of very tough rock, boulder, and deep ruts in a steep uphill slow-go section before I get to my spread. Thereís no electricity, phone, or other amenities, and the nearest neighbor is about 2 miles away. When youíre out there, youíre literally on your own. Reliability matters in everything, especially vehicles.

Iíve been driving this route in my old Tacoma 4x4 for a few years, but the miles have taken their toll on the little Jap hauler. Last month I upgraded to a brand new full-size F-150 to allow towing heavier loads, plus I needed seating for more than just two people. I also needed rock-solid reliability and toughness. Enter the FX4.

Yesterday, I took the FX4 for its first time up the mountain to the cabin. I was hauling a modest load of about 500 pounds of window bars and shutters, a generator, and another 300-400 pounds of tools and supplies. There were two of us in the cab, too (my wife is small, but Iím a big boy).
Short story is the truck performed flawlessly. It took a few dings and scratches, but thatís the name of the game with a construction application like this for the truck.

A few impressions of this first trip worth mentioning:
  1. Tires. I have the stock Bridgestone Dueler H/L P275/55R20 All-Season M+S tires that came on the truck from the dealership. Theyíre great on the street, but off road traction, especially in the sandy wash and the upper boulder-y sections wasnít as super. I didnít get stuck, but it definitely felt like there was less traction than I was used to in my old truck. Iíll keep these tires for now (canít afford new ones yet), but an upgrade is definitely in the plans for the future.
  2. Ground Clearance. At one part of the last road section, I scraped an under truck skid plate once, and I rubbed both side running boards a few times. My wife likes the running boards to get in and out of the truck, so removing them is off the table. Ergo, a small leveling kit or 4-inch lift kit, coupled with taller tires, is my probable solution to the issue of more ground clearance.
  3. Bed Length. I settled on the 5.5-foot bed length when I bought the truck, knowing full well it would be marginally a bit small for my needs. I often tow an off road trailer for bigger loads, so a small bed is not usually a big problem. And even when I donít take the trailer, most loads are small enough to fit in or on a bed this size. This trip, for example, I just piled the (large) window shutters onto the tiny bed and strapped them down. It was pretty marginal. If I had to do it over again, Iíd think about going to the 6.5-foot bed, as this one is just a little small. Maybe an overhead rack or at least a headache bar, would offer some more on-truck hauling options. (Iím also planning on installing a tool box or side boxes in the bed, which is just going to make the problem worseÖ)
  4. Tie-down Hooks. The four little hooks Ford provides in the bed (bottom of each corner) are simply not enough for serious hauling. I made them work for my load, but at least two more along in the middle would have greatly helped.
  5. Electric Doo-dads. I love all the bells and whistles that came on the truck, from the moonroof, to Synch, to power everythingÖ ah, but when youíre out in the boonies, all this stuff is a literal drain on the battery. With the truck parked at the cabin, every time I opened a truck door to get tool out, the interior lights came on, the synch screen lit up, the cargo lamp came one.. hell, even the taillights seemed to light up. I know thereís gotta be a way to disable these things, so Iím going to have to spend some time in the big manual figuring all that out. I like the lights and such when zipping around in the city, but not when Iím out in the sticks.
  6. Antenna. The stock Ford steel antenna is not long for this world. Too many overhanging mesquite branches are going to snap that sucker off. The plan is to replace it with a flexible rubber shorty antenna, which is what I ran on my old Tacoma with excellent results.
  7. Body Damage. As expected, the truck suffered its first ďArizona pin stripingĒ from the overgrowth on the trail. Most of this will buff out, but not all. Also I dinged the bed in a few places offloading the shutters. That first scrape was really hard to swallow on a $45K truck, but hey, now itís an actual truck and I can use it as such.

-Bug
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Old 02-22-2014, 12:11 PM   #2
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Now let's see if I can get some pictures to post:

Truck just back from the trip:
Click the image to open in full size.

AZ Pin striping looks worse in this photo than it actually is. Still, I gotta get used to this kind of damage:
Click the image to open in full size.

Also suffered a few dings. Need to touch-up the paint a bit:
Click the image to open in full size.

And in case you were interested in the cabin itself, here's a shot of one of the window bars and steel screen shutters I installed yesterday. Truck is in the background:
Click the image to open in full size.

-Bug
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2013 F150 FX4 S/Crew EcoBoost BlueFlame Metallic
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Exterior: Rubber Antenna, Swing Cases
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Last edited by BigBadBug; 02-22-2014 at 02:15 PM. Reason: pictures not working first try
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Old 02-22-2014, 01:57 PM   #3
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Your pics aren't working. Looking forward to seeing what you do with the truck!
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Old 02-22-2014, 02:16 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by 02SuperCrew5.4 View Post
Your pics aren't working. Looking forward to seeing what you do with the truck!
Thanks, I'm sometimes computer-challenged. They should be working now.
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Old 02-23-2014, 08:21 PM   #5
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Look into a set of sliders with integrated steps for your wife too.

And for the price of a 4 in lift I got the Icon shocks (stage1) plus UCA and some taller blocks for the rear. Ended up with 3" of lift in the front and 2" in the rear and run 35's with room to spare. Plus I have shocks that would eat up that washboard road and make the truck perform much better off road with a more tuned suspension setup. Might look into that as an option. All do the higher end shocks (fox, icon, king) will allow you to do this.

Wes
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Old 02-23-2014, 09:11 PM   #6
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Sorry but I don't understand how someone can treat a truck like that? And be fine with it???? I'm glad its not my money.
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Old 02-23-2014, 10:55 PM   #7
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It's a truck..?? That's what they build them for..hence "truck" and "FX4 Offroad package". Weird how those seem to be ignored these days.
Love it man. I got the 4" rancho for mine and will be upgrading to 35s soon and king coilovers built and valved for my specific height!!
Also just took my steps off and will be getting amp automatic running boards! Stoked on your cabin as well. Gonna need some storage for guns and ammo to!


Running boards off 4" rancho and 33x12.50r18 w/ 18x9 -12mm XD addicts
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Offroad Work Truck: 2013 EcoBoost FX4-image.jpg  
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Old 02-24-2014, 02:43 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by USMC_0316_RAIDER View Post
It's a truck..?? That's what they build them for..hence "truck" and "FX4 Offroad package". Weird how those seem to be ignored these days.
Love it man. I got the 4" rancho for mine and will be upgrading to 35s soon and king coilovers built and valved for my specific height!!
Also just took my steps off and will be getting amp automatic running boards! Stoked on your cabin as well. Gonna need some storage for guns and ammo to!


Running boards off 4" rancho and 33x12.50r18 w/ 18x9 -12mm XD addicts
That looks so clean man. God I can't wait to install the kit on my truck. I'm just "concerned" (not sure that is the right word, because really I don't care. Just wondering how it will look LOL) I have 33s on 17s right now, and with the 4in Rancho kit, I'm wondering how it will look.
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Old 02-24-2014, 02:49 AM   #9
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WICKED thread. We get to see a civillian torture test on the EcoBoost.

I'd be interested in seeing photos of the terrain you travel. Kudos!
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Old 02-24-2014, 08:14 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smcox1 View Post
Sorry but I don't understand how someone can treat a truck like that? And be fine with it???? I'm glad its not my money.
Lol. Yeah, I was expecting comments like this one.

The way I see it is that there are essentially two types of truck owners. The first treats their trucks like delicate show queens. They add all manner of aftermarket goodies to make the truck look better than stock. They can't imagine driving it offroad and scratching the paint. Instead, they cruise it on Friday nights to be seen. They may daily drive their truck, too, but it gets a wash and wax every other week to keep it in near perfect condition.

The second type of owner bought the truck to function as a workhorse. Scratches and dings aren't sought, but when they do happen they are treated almost as badges of honor. This person also adds aftermarket goodies, but only if its functional in nature, and only if it will improve the usefulness of the truck. This type of truck gets washed occasionally, too, but it's to remove underbody mud and broken off trail branches, not to make the truck look pretty.

The simple truth is neither type of owner is better or more "right" than the other; they're just different. In addition to my FX4 workhorse, I also have a thoroughbred show queen in the garage (1959 Austin Healey) that I bring out occasionally for Friday night cruising (and Saturday afternoon autocrossing).

Two types of owners; two different applications. Viva la difference.

-Bug
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Exterior: Rubber Antenna, Swing Cases
Interior: OEM Ford

Last edited by BigBadBug; 02-24-2014 at 08:19 AM. Reason: grammar and spelling
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