What generation 7.3L F250/F350 is better to start with?

dtul

New member
Hey guys, I recently started planning a full size overland build with a preference for an F250 or F350 with the 7.3L diesel. Do you think the OBS or 99-early 03 trucks are a better platform?

Personally I prefer the OBS looks and I actually did just buy a 1996 F250 4x4 extended cab with the 7.3L that I found for sale along a random country road and got it for a good price. The truck is rust free and the engine is strong with almost 240K miles and service notes for most of it's life. However the AC is bad, suspension is shot and and I don't trust the transmission. I was fine with those issues since I planned to replace them anyways. My plan was to swap a D60 front axle on, and upgrade the front and rear suspension, brakes, put 33s or 35s on it, and possibly get a new transmission or have the current one rebuilt.

However, there are several wiring issues with an auxillary fuel tank in the bed that may make this truck more trouble than it's worth. Initially my thoughts were to just disconnect the fuel lines from that tank and take it out of the bed and replace the onboard tanks and fuel lines and auxillary fuel valve, but the original owner did some wild stuff with the wiring to make the auxillary tank read as the primary fuel tank that I have no idea how to undo and my shop is at a loss too without spending a ton on labor to sort it out.

I have a lead on a 2002 F250 Crew Cab longbed with the 7.3L with 150K miles. That one or a similar truck will cost at least twice what the truck I have now cost, but after everything I need to do on the current truck, I probably won't be spending that much more on the 02 and could skip the headaches. I'd also have a solid front axle (still unclear if these came with a D50 or D60 though), though I am concerned with the longer wheelbase on that particular truck.

Right now I am still leaning towards keeping the one I have. It will probably be an expensive nightmare, but Iocally a strong 7.3L with no rust is hard to find for a good price and the time spent offloading this one and finding a new one may still be better spent sorting out this one. I at least got it cheaply enough that I think I can resell it for what I paid if it does end up being too much to handle.

Anyways thanks for reading through this, I'm just curious what you full size guys think is the better platform if I'm considering starting over. I'm also considering the Ram 2500/3500 with the 5.9L. Thanks!
 

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dtul

New member
I wouldn’t mind a nice OBS at all. Nice simple rigs to work on.
Yep, that was my thought too, but looks like I may have found the exception... I have it for at least a month while I wait for the title to get here so with enough time I may be able to make sense of what this guy did and figure out a way to undo it.
 

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MTVR

Well-known member
Instead of swapping a Dana 60 straight axle into a TTB F250, why not just get an F350 that came stock with a Dana 60 straight axle?
 

dtul

New member
For your fuel tank wiring hit eBay and shop for a evtm for your year of truck, they are like cheating for electrical stuff.
Thanks for the tip! Been looking at a few places for the shop manuals, didn't think about the electrical guide though.

Instead of swapping a Dana 60 straight axle into a TTB F250, why not just get an F350 that came stock with a Dana 60 straight axle?
I thought about that, but wanted to stick with an F250 initially since they didn't make the F350 with an extended cab. I just prefer the size and look of the extended cab on the OBS.
 

85_Ranger4x4

Well-known member
I thought about that, but wanted to stick with an F250 initially since they didn't make the F350 with an extended cab. I just prefer the size and look of the extended cab on the OBS.
I have been drooling over a '250 on my way to work someone just acquired, 4wd crew cab shortbed. I never knew they made them before the 99+ SD, I guess only like 95-97 and only in F-250's.

I haven't been around a fullsize TTB but I have no issues with the TTB in my Ranger. To the point that I axle swapped to a stronger version with better brakes rather than going to a solid axle.
 

Grenadiers

Adventurer
I had a 2001 F350 4x4 extended cab, off-road package, and now have a 1996 F250 extended cab, 4x4, rust free. The 2001 was a much better truck. Intercooled, as the '96 is not, felt a lot more modern. You can add an intercooler to the '96 truck, aftermarket, Banks I believe, or junkyard parts off of a 99-2003 7.3l truck.
 

nitro_rat

On a Suburban Excursion
I had a 2001 F350 4x4 extended cab, off-road package, and now have a 1996 F250 extended cab, 4x4, rust free. The 2001 was a much better truck. Intercooled, as the '96 is not, felt a lot more modern. You can add an intercooler to the '96 truck, aftermarket, Banks I believe, or junkyard parts off of a 99-2003 7.3l truck.
TTB in a 150 isn't problematic, it's like the Ranger. In a 250 there are leaf springs and the whole setup is hokey. The shackles are up front and the springs have to twist when the beams move up and down. The pivot brackets take a beating especially when overloaded with a Ranch Hand bumper. TTB diesel 250's suck anyway and the Ranch Hand kills them.

Keep the truck you have, do a D60 swap and get an EVTM and probably a fuel tank harness from junkyard/ebay!

PS, that 02 250 probably has a D50 so you'd be D60 swapping either way! Check out Sky's offroad for shackle reversal and u bolts and stuff to make the 60 swap better than stock!
 

Buliwyf

Viking with a Hammer
98-05. There was a year or so when Ford offered both the 6.0 and the 7.3. Those were the best 7.3 trucks, but the 01-03 7.3's might have been the best 7.3 engines.
I think that these years have the Ram beat as well. A manual Trans diesel Ram isn't bad though. Gas or auto Rams of that era aren't even close.

TTB is the debil. Dana 60 all the way. If you aren't locking the front axle, the early solid axles aren't bad at all. Few of us had any issues with them. They just aren't Dana 60's.

Don't replace a good, but worn transmission. If you can find a real pro to rebuild it. Good luck with that.
 
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RPhil

Adventurer
The answer is dependent on your budget and what you really want.

If you are willing to perform the other major work that you have outlined, then I do not think doing some basic rewiring on the gas tank should be your deciding factor.

If I recall correctly, 2002 was the crossover year for the Dana 50 vs. 60 in the Super Duties (early examples had the 50 and later examples had the 60). If it is not a dually (all were 60's to my knowledge), the only way to be sure is to physically inspect the front axle.

Good luck with your decision.
 

dtul

New member
The answer is dependent on your budget and what you really want.

If you are willing to perform the other major work that you have outlined, then I do not think doing some basic rewiring on the gas tank should be your deciding factor.

If I recall correctly, 2002 was the crossover year for the Dana 50 vs. 60 in the Super Duties (early examples had the 50 and later examples had the 60). If it is not a dually (all were 60's to my knowledge), the only way to be sure is to physically inspect the front axle.

Good luck with your decision.
Yeah, thats what I read to on the D50 vs D60 in 02, apparently its hard to tell which you have without taking it apart. I'm definitely leaning towards the F250, it's going to cost way more in parts, but the price I paid offsets so much of that it's probably worth it. Just wanted to get a thread going in case there are any major pluses in the later 7.3L's favor that I'm overlooking, but I don't there are.

TTB in a 150 isn't problematic, it's like the Ranger. In a 250 there are leaf springs and the whole setup is hokey. The shackles are up front and the springs have to twist when the beams move up and down. The pivot brackets take a beating especially when overloaded with a Ranch Hand bumper. TTB diesel 250's suck anyway and the Ranch Hand kills them.

Keep the truck you have, do a D60 swap and get an EVTM and probably a fuel tank harness from junkyard/ebay!

PS, that 02 250 probably has a D50 so you'd be D60 swapping either way! Check out Sky's offroad for shackle reversal and u bolts and stuff to make the 60 swap better than stock!
Funny you mention Sky's RSK, was just looking at those this morning. Seems like it'd help a ton if I can get a D60 for the truck. Junkyard fuel tank harness may not be a bad idea either, should probably start looking for one.
 

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da/dt

New member
I’m a huge OBS fan. Have a ‘95 presently. The benefits of the better HPOP in the 99-03 engines can’t be ignored though.
 

glock7018

Member
So I own a 96 ford F 250 7.3 and a 2000 Ford Excursion 7.3.

The 99-03 trucks are far superior in every way imaginable, other than looking cool.

Pros to a 99-03 truck

  • More power
  • Inter cooled from the factory
  • Electric fuel system
  • Better interior
  • Far better brakes with the super duty's having hydo boost vs vacuum in the OBS
  • Parts are easier to find locally
  • Ride far better
  • Much better platform for making modern power.

Pros to a OBS truck.

  • They look cool
  • Old men hit on you at the gas station. (if that's your thing)

The biggest con to a OBS truck is they are very limited if you want any sort of power. They did not come from the factory with a inter cooler, so EGT's are sky high. Also they have a weak mechanical fuel pump that barely gives it enough fuel pressure in stock form. Both of these issues i had to correct with my OBS and it was expensive.

My OBS has the RSK and a dana 60 swapped and the ride is pretty much terrible. I wouldn't dream of taking it off road in fear of rattling the brittle plastic interior apart.

You will be miles ahead by going with a superduty truck if you can sell that OBS for a good price. Or have both, life is short.
 

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