COMPLETELY BULLETPROOFING OUR F250

Posted In: RV Lifestyle, SEEMORE, Towing, Video

After owning our Ford F250 6.0L diesel (nicknamed “SEEMORE”) for 10 years, it was time. We had to do something. While still a solid performer once warm, on a cold morning SEEMORE sounded like a 1960 Bluebird school bus being crushed by a garbage compactor. The truck’s daily engine warmup was long enough to read a Dostoyevsky novel. We needed to either perform major surgery to bring our beloved diesel steed back from the brink, or – heaven forbid – send our old friend out to pasture and move on to a new towing beast.

As you now know, we decided to invest in the truck we already own. We brought SEEMORE back from the brink of smelly diesel despair. In this article I’d like to consider exactly why we decided to get our truck “bulletproofed.”

Let’s start out with a quick list of the work we had performed at Bullet Proof Diesel. SEEMORE got a “Level 3” bulletproofing and then some.

We left Mesa with everything but the kitchen sink in the employee break room. The upgrades included:

Bullet Proof Diesel EGR Cooler
Bullet Proof Diesel Oil Cooler (Large Size)
Bullet Proof Diesel New Cylinder Heads
ARP Head Studs
Factory gaskets
Bullet Proof Diesel FICM
Bullet Proof Diesel Water Pump

A host of other upgrades and updates went under the hood, from a metal turbo intercooler pipe to a new serpentine belt to the Bullet Proof Diesel fan clutch wire harness saver.

I’m not going to detail exactly what all of these upgrades do – that’s well covered in our video. But I want to get back to the question of why. Why bulletproof an older 6.0L truck? Why not just buy a new truck?

Have you shopped for a new diesel truck lately? We did cast some cursory glances at new Ford F250 diesel trucks. To my surprise, the prices on these Powerstroke trucks have almost doubled in the past 10 years. I don’t know exactly why, but the cost of a new diesel truck seems to have risen at a rate higher than inflation. If you go to your local dealership and start pricing the nicer new diesel trucks, you will routinely see prices in the $60,000 and $70,000 dollar range. This is almost double what we paid 10 years ago.

If you go to your local dealership and start pricing the nicer new diesel trucks, you will routinely see prices in the $60,000 and $70,000 dollar range. This is almost double what we paid 10 years ago.

The new trucks have motors and electronics in every department. Power rear window? Check. Power tailgate? Check. Tailgate step? Check. Bed light? Check. Power tow mirrors? Check. Power running boards? Check. Power heated captain’s chair with soothing back and buttock massage? That may be an option. But you get the idea – the new trucks are crammed full of fancy things to break, I mean, modern luxuries and amenities. Plus, they have all of the latest federal emissions gear, including DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) that gives you one more fluid reservoir and system to maintain. DEF is now being added to fuel pumps around the country. Personally, I’m happy that I do not need to purchase it.

One Long Long Honeymoon YouTube subscriber wrote me about his new F350 tow vehicle. It cost him $76,000 – and that price did not include the price of registration, title, and insurance. New vehicle costs depend on many factors, including the state of your residence. In our home state, vehicles are taxed for registration based on their value (not their weight, as is the case in some states). In other words, the more valuable the vehicle, the more costly the annual registration fee. The tag alone for a new diesel truck will cost hundreds of dollars!

So let’s assume we purchased a new truck for $70,000. Next, consider costs as they would be absorbed over the next five years. Over five years, the $70,000 will turn into a $35,000 truck. That’s easily predictable depreciation, and it means we lost $35,000 in net worth. What’s more, we also lost the opportunity to invest that lost $35,000 in something else that might appreciate in value (not to mention the other $35,000 that’s still tied up in the depreciating asset that is your truck).

Over the course of the five years, we’d be shelling out a king’s ransom for tag ad valorem taxes and insurance fees. It’s safe to say that the actual cost of the truck would be north of $80,000.

Now, I’m not saying we’ll never buy another new truck. Who knows what the future will bring? But our existing truck, which has proven itself well equipped for the task of towing our Airstream, has long since been paid off. It is cheap to register and to insure. As a diesel, some would consider its 125,000 miles to be quite low! In the good ole days, diesel trucks would run for a million miles with little more maintenance than the occasional oil change. We should be able to get more life out of our truck, and obviously there are strong financial incentives to do so.

I offer this discussion of new trucks to provide context. Bulletproofing SEEMORE was one option. We had other options, but in the context of buying a new truck, bulletproofing our existing truck just made the most financial sense. Any way you slice it, buying a new vehicle is costly. The monthly payment on SEEMORE, I like to say, is zero dollars and zero cents.

The monthly payment on SEEMORE, I like to say, is zero dollars and zero cents.

I receive many interesting messages from Long Long Honeymoon viewers.

Some people ask, “How can you afford to travel the way you do?”

And then others (sometimes the same folks) ask, “Why don’t you just go get a new truck?”

See the irony? When you take financially prudent steps, you have money left over to travel. Buying new vehicles, sadly, is not typically a recipe for financial success.

That brings us to bulletproofing an older truck. The 6.0L Ford has taken many well deserved jabs over the years, including a class action lawsuit from owners. There’s no denying that the original engine design had many severe problems. Which is why Bullet Proof Diesel is such a godsend for 6.0 owners.

Ford sold about a million 6.0L engines. They created a huge market, and then promptly moved on to the next design. In so doing, Ford left the job of “fixing” the ill fated 6.0L design to other companies. Bullet Proof Diesel was created to fill that void. BPD has engineered and manufactured parts that essentially turn the flawed 6.0L into a highly reliable machine.

So in December 2016 I decided to repair and “bullet proof” our truck instead of buying a new truck. I had a few things to figure out – namely what to do, what parts to use, and where to do the work.

As far as what to do, I knew I wanted new injectors, a new FICM, and a new street legal EGR cooler. (Personally I did not want an EGR delete, since it would mean breaking emissions law. I’m not judging anyone, but I didn’t want to go on YouTube and broadcast myself violating the law.)

I also wanted to switch to the Bullet Proof Diesel billet water pump.

I wasn’t sure about new cylinder heads, but I wanted ARP head studs.

During my research, I decided I wanted to use Bullet Proof Diesel parts. So I contacted the company to see if they might be willing to partner with us to create a video. If they would supply us with parts, we would find a mechanic and have them installed. In exchange, we’d explain to our audience the benefits of using genuine BPD parts in this sort of job.

During my research, I decided I wanted to use Bullet Proof Diesel parts.

In reply, Bullet Proof Diesel made us an exciting offer — if we would travel to Mesa, AZ, BPD would handle the entire installation in house. Even better, we’d get the work done at a nice discount. It would still end up costing us a chunk of dough, but we’d be getting the best parts and service at a nice price. This was an opportunity we could not refuse. In my eyes it was a best case scenario – the best parts installed in the best shop by the best technicians.

So we traveled to Mesa, Arizona to produce this video. While at Bullet Proof Diesel, we ended up with a few extras that I had not previously planned – the most significant of these is the Bypass Filtration System. Before we arrived in Mesa, bypass filtration was not really on my radar screen. Now I am happy to sing its praises.

The other extra, and it’s a huge one, are the new cylinder heads. Initially I wans’t sure whether to keep our old cylinder heads or switch to new ones. Although it is possible to install ARP head studs into older heads, Bullet Proof Diesel will not do so – they insist on using their specially manufactured new heads with sleeved exhaust valves. In short, this is the best way to go – new heads that have been reinforced to avoid cracks. Combined with ARP head studs, this provides ultimate peace of mind. I now have confidence that we can safely tune SEEMORE for more horsepower if we choose to do so.

Everything at Bullet Proof Diesel exceeded expectations. I’ve been to a lot of mechanic’s shops over the years. I’ve never seen one as clean and professionally run as the shop at Bullet Proof Diesel. It’s located in an upscale office park in Mesa. The area is extremely nice, and everything inside Bullet Proof Diesel is equally first class.

The heart of Bullet Proof Diesel’s business is parts manufacture. The shop consists of three or four bays where their mechanics specialize in installing their parts. Again, it’s simply a best case scenario – the best parts installed by the best technicians in the best shop.

It’s a best case scenario – the best parts installed by the best technicians in the best shop.

What about cost? To get specific up-to-date costs on this sort of work, your best approach is to call Bullet Proof Diesel and discuss your specific truck and situation. The ballpark cost of a “Level 2” job (EGR and oil coolers) is $5500. The price of a “Level 3” (which includes cylinder heads) is about double that number at around $11,000. FICM and water pump are extra, as are some of the other updates and upgrades. So it’s obviously not exactly a cheap undertaking. Nor, however, does it compare to the cost of a new truck.

As many readers know, we experienced an EGR and oil cooler failure on our truck with 84,000 miles on the odometer. The cost to repair that failure was about $3000, plus two weeks of down time. If such a failure happens to you when you are traveling, you’ll probably need to rent a car, and stay at a campsite for a week or two. It’s a huge disruption, and it’s frustrating to shell out bucks to reinstall what are essentially poorly designed factory parts. Switching to the Bullet Proof system costs about the same out-of-pocket, but gives you the long term peace of mind in reliability.

Note that Bullet Proof Diesel paid us nothing to produce the video. They did, however, perform some incredible work on our truck at a nice discount, and they tossed in a few extras that I may or may not have purchased otherwise. Since I had already decided to bulletproof SEEMORE, I was excited by this collaboration. SEEMORE got the greatest birthday present I could’ve imagined.

In the months since having our truck bulletproofed, we’ve towed our Airstream across country and back. Quite simply, I’m thrilled with the way our truck is performing. I’ll do another video at some point that discusses the performance in detail. But the combination of new injectors, new cylinders head and a clean turbo have restored power to our truck. It’s once again a joy to drive. I love monitoring our various engine temps with the ScanGauge II. Although I’ll probably get a tuner, I don’t feel it is necessary – our truck has gobs of power and handles our Airstream with ease. It once again sounds healthy (albeit with that trademark 6.0L bark and growl) and runs like a top. I couldn’t be happier with the results.

Quite simply, I’m thrilled with the way our truck is performing.

In our case, we still enjoy our truck. From a filmmaking standpoint, I like that our videos remain consistent over the years with the same truck and Airstream. This provides a continuity to our videos; we can pull up footage of our rig from 2007 and it looks consistent with 2017.

For those of us with towable RVs, the tow vehicle is the beating heart of the rig. It’s important to have absolute confidence in its performance and reliability. I believe that the 6.0L Ford can be a great engine, once the problem areas have been addressed. I look forward to using our “bulletproofed” truck for many camping seasons to come.


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