Project Ford E350 Tow Rig: Part 1 – Towtally Ready
baby blue van sitting in parking lot
This thing handles awesome now.

Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t handle like Project SC300. But with these three small changes there was a significant and noticeable difference in the handling of the van. It doesn’t wander on the highway anywhere near as badly as it used to, and it’s especially better when towing a load. It corners smoother. It’s totally awesome. The shocks probably could use a heavy duty upgrade, and that’s in the cards, but we’re not there yet.

There are two drawbacks, though. FIrst, the rear of the van now sits higher because of the helper springs. That meant that the cheap tri-ball trailer hitch we used to use for the horse trailer was sitting everything way too high, so we needed to get a drop hitch.

Speaking of hitches, you definitely definitely definitely want to visit your local trailer (hitch) supply place to talk to them about your setup. The hitch is one of the most important things to get right, both from a sizing/class perspective as well as from a weight and height perspective. A hitch that is too high prevents the trailer suspension from doing its job correctly, and a hitch that’s improperly loaded (due to improper load in/on the trailer) can result in a scary nightmare death trap. You don’t want that.

The second drawback is that when the van is completely empty, it rides a little bouncy in the back. Since the van is rarely used for anything but towing or hauling, it’s not a particularly big problem. But if you were using your tow vehicle as your daily driver, it is something to be aware of. It’s not bad. It’s just noticeable. It might be less noticeable in a truck than in the van, though.

So what’s next? Well, we have a bunch of yucky A-pillar gauges that are wired like crap and are starting to flake. So it’s time to upgrade some electronic components and see if we can’t clean things up a bit. And, man, the lighting sucks. And the running boards feel like they’re going to give out when you step on them.

But we are well on the path to being…

You know it…

towtally ready.


Hellwig Suspension Products


  1. This thing is hideous and awesome, shitty aluminum sidesteps and all! I admire your love for the 7.3. Once I drove the 6.8 V10 version though….I was sold.

    1. I smashed a 6.8 V10 with my Whippled 350 Vortec on 4psi. Supposedly they wake up with a tune, but if they’re anything like the V8s of the time then no thanks.

  2. I really like the Ford 7.3 diesel myself. An exhaust, intercooler, fuel controller and the Garrett upgrade turbo and it flies and gets great mileage. I could get up to 24 mpg towing! The 6.7 Powerstroke is sorta lame, way worse fuel economy and less of everything but just off idle grunt.

  3. This is pretty sick. I have already fallen for the dajiban, practical cheap and fun tow rigs are the way to go.

    The 7.3 seems more robust and less problematic than the 6.0 PSD that followed. Which I had in an Excursion. I miss that rig but it had electrical gremlins I didn’t have patience and money for at the time.

    P.s. No way anyone over 5’9 is standing in there, that made me laugh on its own, unless the floor is dropped.

  4. I strongly disagree on rear brakes being less important than front in a tow pig. See how your nose points up with a load? Which end do you think is going to lock first with a trailer out back? My dually will lock the rears before the fronts empty so you have to be on your toes but isn’t that why you racecar in the first place?

    1. I’m not sure I understand the physics behind that one. Adding weight increases the force required to overcome the coefficient of friction. See:

      You can demonstrate this yourself. Lightly drag an eraser on a stable and immovable surface. Then push really hard on the eraser and try to drag it. It’s harder to drag the eraser that’s being pressed into the surface more.

      If your argument is that the nose is pointing up with load, that means the front is unweighted, which means it would require less force to overcome the coefficient of friction between tire and road, which would make the fronts lock up first. It would mean the rear is carrying more load, and that the force required to overcome friction is higher, and that the rears would lock up later.

      On a race car this is similar. You have higher front bias because the front does more work and the rear unloads under braking.

      If your truck is locking up four rear tires before the front two tires when towing, I am thinking that your rig needs some servicing.

      Either that or I’m completely misunderstanding my highschool physics.

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