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Old 02-22-2016, 10:50 AM   #1
BlueThunder34
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Aluminum Trucks?

I see that Ford is going to all aluminum trucks including the superduty's to increase payload and tow capacity by reducing the weight of the truck. While that sounds great, don't you want your TV to weigh more especially when towing a heavy trailer? I know that is why I went from a 1/2 ton to a 1 ton, heavy running gear, etc. heavier truck to not be pushed around by the weight of the trailer. If you make the trucks lighter and lighter wouldn't you begin to lose this benefit with heavier trailers? I know the numbers look good on paper but what about real world?
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Old 02-22-2016, 10:56 AM   #2
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I'm with you. One of the primary reasons I bought a bigger truck was to gain weight. Personally I don't want a 5k lb. truck to pull a 15k lb. trailer. Simple physics tells you that's not going to be a good situation when the stuff hits the fan.
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Old 02-22-2016, 11:11 AM   #3
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Thinking out loud I agree with you. But the jury is still out for me. Depends on the engineering and design that goes into it. 2 things come to mind for me. One is Ford Superduty was a heavy truck anyway, probably 6-700 lbs heavier then a comparable Chevy HD. Two is a tractor trailer. A typical semi tractor is 15-18k lbs and a loaded trailer is 55-60k lbs. It's all in the engineering. So I'll sit back and watch for a while. I'm good with what I have for 3-4 years anyway. Living in the salt and rust belt all these years it would be nice if the new aluminum tucks are a success.

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Old 02-22-2016, 11:15 AM   #4
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Thinking out loud I agree with you. But the jury is still out for me. Depends on the engineering and design that goes into it. 2 things come to mind for me. One is Ford Superduty was a heavy truck anyway, probably 6-700 lbs heavier then a comparable Chevy HD. Two is a tractor trailer. A typical semi tractor is 15-18k lbs and a loaded trailer is 55-60k lbs. It's all in the engineering. So I'll sit back and watch for a while. I'm good with what I have for 3-4 years anyway. Living in the salt and rust belt all these years it would be nice if the new aluminum tucks are a success.

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That's a good point
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Old 02-22-2016, 12:21 PM   #5
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That's a good point
Playing with the Ford and Chevy websites it seems they may be closer in weight than I thought. Its hard to tell and of course the actual weight changes with options. I know my F250 Crew Cab diesel short bed weighed about 7800 lbs in XLT trim with 4 wheel drive. My current Crew Cab Dually Lariat 4x4 loaded with leather and sunroof is about 8650 lbs. Perhaps someone with a similar equipped Chevy could quote thier actual weight? It does say that a crew cab dually f350 is 5 inches longer overall then a crew cab dually Chevrolet. Either way I'm fairly confident these new aluminum Superduties will be quite capable. I'm not really concerned about it. I'm more interested in how the aluminum holds up. The F150 has been out now over a year and it'll be some time before I'm ready to replace so I'll be watching them closely. I do think its long overdue that we build cars and trucks with something other then steel. It's only been a 100+ years now. Some class 8 semi tractors have incorporated both fiberglass and/or aluminum in their cabs/hoods/sleepers for years. It seems people always reject change at first until they see how it works.
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Old 02-22-2016, 12:33 PM   #6
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Very true, I spend my spare time rebuilding classic muscle cars and have always sworn by the statement "there is no replacement for displacement". I laughed when the ecoboost came out and wrote it off, yet 3 years after release I drove one and bought it the same day. Had my trailer been a little lighter I would still own it as I loved that truck. Technology has come a long way and continues to impress.
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Old 02-22-2016, 12:44 PM   #7
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I felt the same way about the EcoBoost. Until both my brother and my best friend bought one, all I can say is wow

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Old 02-22-2016, 12:47 PM   #8
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Looking at marine and aerospace applications, aluminum has been successfully used for a number of years. Some of the most durable fishing boats for both salt water and fresh water are made, for the most part, exclusively of aluminum. Even 30-50' power craft made of aluminum are "still floating" after 30+ years of salt water use.

Airplanes, probably some of the most "harshly used means of travel" are flying with no significant problems after millions of miles and hundreds of thousands of hours of operation in some very "unfriendly environments"...

Yup, I'm a "Ford fan" and have been for as long as I can remember, but I'm not completely sold on "aluminum trucks" just because Ford is making the "first ones".... My 2005 Mustang GT has an aluminum hood and some other significant structural components that are formulated from aluminum alloy.

What I'm waiting for is an "ecoboost engine" for the SuperDuty line. Although I'll probably never buy another truck (I've said that 3 times in the past 4 years). Combine the "evolving technologies" in all areas of automotive technology, from graphite, carbon, steel, fiberglass, aluminum, magnesium and a host of "yet to be commonplace" materials and trucks can only get better and better as the technology improves.
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Old 02-22-2016, 12:59 PM   #9
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When Ford first came out with the all aluminum truck the first thought that came to my mind was the Chrysler Imperial, 1980/ 81 version. If anyone can recall they came with an aluminum front bumer. By about 1984 everyone of these bumpers had rotted off. The metal literally desintegrated into a powder and left whar was left of your bumper sitting on the side of the road. I realize I'm not comparing apples to apples here but how long are these frames going to last before the road salt starts reacting with the aluminum?
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Old 02-22-2016, 01:14 PM   #10
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Zuley,

I don't believe the frames are aluminum, Ford is still advertising the "frame" as "high strength steel". The body panels and some other components are the "aluminum parts"... Thinking back to Chrysler's "mid 80's technology", metallurgy has come a long, long way since then. Just the use of a "different type of aluminum alloy" could have (would have) prevented Chrysler's problems. I've got a 1962 "Mirro-craft row boat" that I bought new when I was still in high school. I've toted it from bayou to gulf inlet to ???? I've never painted it, never polished it, really, never done anything but washed the fish guts out of it and it's still functional without any leaks. I use it every summer and there's no corrosion damage that I have found.

Yesterday, coming home from church, my DW pointed out a 2008 or 2009 PU truck (I won't name the brand) with rusted out wheel wells on the bed and holes under the driver's door in the kick panel. Even the "current steel trucks" in some environments are "limited life items". That truck isn't the only example of "steel corrosion problems", that type of damage is something that makes me "cringe" every time I think about keeping a truck or car past 4 or 5 years. I don't think aluminum "durability" will be any worse than a steel body has been for so many years....

But, the frame is still steel.
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Old 02-22-2016, 01:14 PM   #11
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I have yet to figure out where Ford has put the block of sacrificial zinc so the aluminum will not corrode. That is how aluminum outboards and boat hulls survive. But once the zinc is gone, the aluminum is next.
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Old 02-22-2016, 01:17 PM   #12
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I have yet to figure out where Ford has put the block of sacrificial zinc so the aluminum will not corrode. That is how aluminum outboards and boat hulls survive. But once the zinc is gone, the aluminum is next.
Not sure either buy my understanding is this is a high grade aluminum alloy, much different composition than what you'd see on a boat?
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Old 02-22-2016, 01:21 PM   #13
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Not sure either buy my understanding is this is a high grade aluminum alloy, much different composition than what you'd see on a boat?
Or is that just marketing jargon? Time will tell and I will watch from the sidelines for now.

BTW: I am a Ford fan, but I am suspicious of the new aluminum bodies' durability.

If Ford "disconnected" the aluminum from the steel frame with isolators to prevent passage of electric current, the aluminum has a chance of surviving. Otherwise galvanic corrosion can occur.
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Old 02-22-2016, 04:50 PM   #14
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Why wait, the aluminum results are right under you

I don't understand all the "jury is out" comments on aluminum. The auto and truck industry has used aluminum wheels for decades now. I can't think of a harsher environment, down in the salt and slush, mated to a steel brake disc. When was the last time you have seen an aluminum wheel turn to dust?
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Old 02-22-2016, 05:44 PM   #15
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I don't understand all the "jury is out" comments on aluminum. The auto and truck industry has used aluminum wheels for decades now. I can't think of a harsher environment, down in the salt and slush, mated to a steel brake disc. When was the last time you have seen an aluminum wheel turn to dust?
Good point about the aluminum wheels holding up under most conditions.

But aluminum is still relatively new as a body panel and a few manufacturing processes to protect it from the elements have to be mastered. It has been a long road of learning for Ford and other manufacturers as summarized by Auto-Body Review.com: https://www.autobody-review.com/blog...to-do-about-it Note the class action lawsuit claim mentioned near the end of the article. But it seems the lawsuit has since been thrown out of court: http://www.carcomplaints.com/news/20...-lawsuit.shtml

A year ago, consumer report summarized some of the history and challenges with aluminum body panels: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/n...ucks/index.htm

In time, aluminum body panels will be a safe bet.
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Old 02-22-2016, 06:18 PM   #16
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According to that Consumer Reports article, Ford has "stepped up to the plate" by offering an unlimited mileage 5 year warranty for paint and corrosion on the aluminum F150. The article also stated that Ford has been using aluminum tailgates on Expeditions since "around 2000" and has issued TSB's to instruct dealers on how to fix problems with paint/corrosion problems. The only problem CR discussed with the 16 years of Expedition tail gates was paint bubbles from contaminated metal, not corrosion. That pretty much indicates that Ford is "standing behind their technology".

My Mustang is now 11 years old, there is no corrosion on the aluminum hood, the steel bolts that hold it to the steel hinges and to any of the steel hardware such as hood latch, striker plates or any of the badging which is "pot metal" and plastic.

I'd be more concerned with the "historically rusty" wheelwells on pickup boxes and the bottoms of doors that have occurred since the early 70's on steel bodies from all three of the manufacturers. As a general rule, if you can get 5 or 6 years in this environment without "holes in your doors" you're doing something right....

I remember comments from people 20 years ago when RV manufacturers started using "glued Styrofoam" instead of fiberglass insulation, the same complaints about sandwich floors in RV's, and a host of other "changes" that evolution in camping has brought to us. Heck, who among us would imagine we'd be sitting in front of an electric heater watching a movie of a fireplace? Or sitting around some ceramic logs with a propane burner under them? Yet we "adapted" to those changes, aluminum is the "truck of the future" and although Ford seems to be the first to offer it "in a complete truck", there's aluminum panels and structural components in all of the trucks being offered by the major manufacturers.

I may be wrong in this, but my guess is that we'll be buying aluminum trucks from all the manufacturers in the next few years. Ten years ago, who'da thunk that Freightliner would have plastic fenders????
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Old 02-22-2016, 06:52 PM   #17
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There is no doubt that aluminum (and other material type) body components will be in our future in a bigger way.

But, it is a personal choice as to when one jumps onto the wagon (or into an aluminum truck so to speak). For now, I am most comfortable on the sidelines watching how it all develops for the reason I shared (potential corrosion), whether applicable or not. Time may very well prove that my concern has no merit.

It will also be interesting to watch how other truck manufacturers respond to Ford's journey into aluminum bodied trucks.
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Old 02-22-2016, 07:28 PM   #18
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In the comparison of semis vs pickups I think we need to just look at what we are talking about. Yes, the tractor weighs 18k or so and the trailer about 55k loaded. About 3/1 trailer vs tractor. A 15k trailer vs a 5k truck = the same. Now, drive your pickup up to a tractor front to front.....it's what, 3' wider? Huge factor in stability. The tractor has TEN wheels (and very large at that) to stabilize the tractor and trailer. Just saying that that comparison is probably not the best. I was driving down the scenic mountain road (very sharp turns etc) behind our home in the NM mountains. I had my windows down and heard howling like crazy. About that time I saw a semi tractor just BARRELING into the curve in front of us. Way fast. Lots of howling, lots of smoke and I'm sitting right in his path. I told my wife "that truck is going to flip" so I stopped and waited as he hit the curve, watched as the 2 inside rear tires came 2' off the ground along with the inside front tire and he kept it coming thru the corner. When it was apparent he was going to hit me head on I was able to just floor it off the edge of the road into some brush. His black marks went right thru where my wife and I had been sitting. He regained control and continued on into our little town where I turned him into the sheriff.

All that to say that ANY regular pickup truck would have been toast and I gained a whole new respect for the stability of a tractor.
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Old 02-22-2016, 07:32 PM   #19
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I'll put my .02 in here. I had a Audi A8L and it had not only aluminum body, but also frame (and many models have had since 1994). It was a big "heavy" 4 door sedan and I have had travels through all weather (snow/salt) conditions and neither paint nor metal ever showed signs of degradation. My point being Audi is used all over the world in many harsher environments then we have here in the lower 48...

I'm still wiating for the jury to return about the TV weight vs Trailer component. I do love the extra "planted" feeling of the F450
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Old 02-23-2016, 05:39 AM   #20
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My Duramax LTZ 3500 dually weighs in at 8700 lbs.

Aluminum does corrode, the aircraft industry as well as the military has corrosion control specialist that have full time jobs taking care of them. My concern with the aluminum bodies is the flex effect that may or may not show up in a few years, think of a soda can. I will say that the F150s at the dealership I work at suffered more damage in a hail storm than the other cars on the lot. Personally, I hope it works out well, but only time will tell. There have been many, many great ideas in the automotive industry through the years that proved to not be effective after 5-6 years, but came back many years later after the lessons learned were fixed....think fuel injection and turbo.
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