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Tk8398
Tk8398 HalfDork
1/12/22 10:51 a.m.

If I wanted 4x4 F-250 mainly for the purpose of carrying a slide in camper and mild off road driving, hauling stuff (lumber, engines, etc) and occasional towing, is there any reason to avoid a Powerstroke?  The amount of these trucks for under $15-20k is pretty slim, but I was wondering if there is any reason to hold out for a 7.3 IDI vs a 97 or older Powerstroke is worth adding to the search.

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim MegaDork
1/12/22 11:07 a.m.

The 7.3 Powerstrokes (ie, 2001 or older) are IDIs with a turbo bolted to them IIRC. The Powerstroke is already slow enough (I have a '96 that might be for sale), the N/A 7.3 is likely to be overtaken by a three legged turtle. Plus, they're even older and thus more worn.

All that said, these trucks are getting old, but because of the mystique of the "unbreakable" 7, they still command a lot of money. A new-ish F150 has similar tow capacity and is going to be a lot more comfortable, but of course not really suitable for a slide in camper.

As much as I like the old Diesel trucks, I'll likely go back to a gas truck for my next truck. Maintenance and parts is substantially more expensive on a Diesel, and finding someone competent to work on them if/when you don't want to DIY is also not always that easy.

rslifkin
rslifkin UberDork
1/12/22 11:08 a.m.

The 7.3 Powerstroke (International T444E) started late in 94 production.  It replaced the earlier International 7.3 IDI.  Until 93, the 7.3 IDI was naturally aspirated.  The turbo ones in 93 and 94 make slightly more power, but still less than the 7.3 Powerstroke.  Early Powerstrokes (97 and older) are non-intercooled (like the IDI turbos) so they make less power than the later years. 

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim MegaDork
1/12/22 11:09 a.m.

In reply to rslifkin :

Although I believe there are intercoolers available to retrofit.

rslifkin
rslifkin UberDork
1/12/22 11:09 a.m.

In reply to BoxheadTim :

The 7.3 Powerstroke shares a displacement with the 7.3 IDI, but that's about it.  They're otherwise unrelated.  Plus, the IDI is indirect injection, the Powerstroke is direct injection. 

Tk8398
Tk8398 HalfDork
1/12/22 11:12 a.m.

The main reason I am looking at a truck this old is that I want to get a Four Wheel Camper specifically, and the full size truck ones made before the late 90s don't fit in newer trucks, so are far cheaper (like $4500-$7500 vs $20k+) and a 90s diesel seems way better than a 90s gas truck, especially in CA.  It's probably not ideal, but it's the only way it wouldn't be so expensive I would just have to do something completely different instead.  I actually drove an NA 7.3 idi and it wasn't too bad, so I think I could live with one as long as it wasn't too unreliable.

81cpcamaro
81cpcamaro SuperDork
1/12/22 11:32 a.m.

Like BoxheadTim said, they only share displacement. The IDI is a mechanical injector pump engine. It is a very simple engine with no computer, so that may or may not appeal to you. Usually they are cheaper than a Powerstroke by a decent amount since most want the PS.

APEowner
APEowner SuperDork
1/12/22 12:18 p.m.

The old IDI 7.3 was dead reliable back in the day.  They are now all at least 28 years old so they're likely somewhat less so.  The 7.3 Powerstroke with the electronically controlled electro-hydraulic direct injectors was introduced in 1994 and improved in performance pretty much every year.  They were also reliable but are now between 27 and 20 years old. 

If you're OK with the performance of the IDI then just get the nicest, lowest mileage example you can find of either engine.

bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter)
bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
1/12/22 12:29 p.m.

The old 7.3'S were great. Smooth quiet economical and reliable as can be. In a new truck they were a very nice driving experience. I drive a 6.9 and 7.3 new or near new. But as mentioned those trucks have hundreds of thousands of miles now and the experience will be quite different unless you find a time capsule or spend a lot of money. Keep an eye on Barn Finds and similar sites and be ready to jump when the right truck comes along. 

bigeyedfish
bigeyedfish Reader
1/12/22 12:59 p.m.

I won't disagree with everything bearmtnmartin says, but my experience was different.  Ours was anything but quiet.  It was a completely stock, base XL truck, and conversations while highway driving were difficult.  I don't typically notice how smooth an engine is, so I'll skip that one, but the trucks themselves are really rough.  They will beat you to death compared to the newer ones.  Ours was rarely just driving around - it was always loaded or offroad or both, so our fuel economy numbers would be different than a normal user, but we were around 12 mpg the few times I checked it.  Not great, but about as good as you could ask given the way we used it.

Reliability...  Typical maintenance on a 7.3 Powerstroke is simple, but don't fall for the hype that it's nonexistent especially now that they are all 20+ years old.  The oil capacity is like 3.5 gallons IIRC, so even a simple oil change is flipping expensive.  There was always something to do on ours.  It never left us stranded, but it was no Camry.

Edit to add:  All that said, I would definitely buy another one if the price was right.  I looked for a while recently and couldn't come up with one, so I bought a V10 truck instead.

rslifkin
rslifkin UberDork
1/12/22 1:05 p.m.

In reply to bigeyedfish :

For the later Super Duty trucks (newer than what OP is looking at), I consider the V10 a good choice.  Realistically, in almost every year it was offered, it had more power than that year's diesel, you just have to rev it much higher to get the power.  The only exception might have been the couple years of 2v V10 vs 6.0. 

accordionfolder
accordionfolder SuperDork
1/12/22 2:25 p.m.

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/ford-73-turbo-learn-me-safe-power-adderstuners/186178/page1/

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/ford-73-idi-diesel/186604/page1/

Some other information. I think you'll find the idi truck without turbo nearly impossible to get out of it's own way - they "require" a turbo and then you'll probably run into some gearing funny if my experience is anything to go on. All the anecdotes state that you can't hurt them and that the engine will outlive the truck. So I guess it really depends on what you're willing to live with. I'd drive one loaded before you decided. 

I had an early 90's PS and a 2000 PS and the early truck I actually liked better in many ways? Power wasn't an issue for what I was doing and even the early ones accept mods just fine. I hated the manual trans in the early PS and apparently they ALL eat second gear's synchro when worked eventually. 

thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago UltraDork
1/12/22 2:39 p.m.

You might be happier with an F350 of similar vintage, unless you want a extended cab short bed. The F250 front suspension kinda sucks (leaf spring TTB with very little travel). I hear the solid axle swap is really easy though. 

Edit: I'm assuming you're talking about 96 and older trucks. If not, ignore me smiley

grover
grover Dork
1/12/22 2:47 p.m.

The idi's are dogs. Even the stock powerstorke is pretty slow. A 5 position switch vastly changes the demeanor of these and is an economical upgrade. That said- my 97 powerstoke didn't pull nearly as well as dads 2000 v10 - the gearing was also better in his. 3.85 vs. 4.10 I believe. With equal rears I believe they would be similar. 
Mine was loud enough (and in very good mechanical condition) that I had to turn it off in drive thru's. 
overall it was a great truck (I had two) but they are old trucks at this point. 

rslifkin
rslifkin UberDork
1/12/22 3:02 p.m.
grover said:

The idi's are dogs. Even the stock powerstorke is pretty slow. A 5 position switch vastly changes the demeanor of these and is an economical upgrade. That said- my 97 powerstoke didn't pull nearly as well as dads 2000 v10 - the gearing was also better in his. 3.85 vs. 4.10 I believe. With equal rears I believe they would be similar. 
Mine was loud enough (and in very good mechanical condition) that I had to turn it off in drive thru's. 
overall it was a great truck (I had two) but they are old trucks at this point. 

I'm not surprised the V10 pulled better.  In those years, it was 215hp for the diesel, 310 for the V10.  That's almost 50% more power. 

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim MegaDork
1/12/22 3:57 p.m.

In reply to grover :

Yeah, the noise levels of my 7.3 PS leave a bit to be desired. One of the reasons why I'm not that keen on taking it on long trips anymore, although I have driven it across the country before.

I think the most important point is that these are old trucks, with old truck problems and parts that are either wearing out or aging out, and all the ride comfort of a 19th century stage coach to boot. Especially the F250 with front leaf springs.

That said, when I was looking for the current truck I found several 460 equipped F250s of similar age with much lower miles and in better condition, so unless fuel mileage is a big concern, those might also be worth a look.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/12/22 5:08 p.m.

I drove Ovid_and_Flem's IDI F250 to the Challenge & back in 2017 towing my Vette on a Uhaul trailer & thought it did fine. It probably wasn't any slower than my 4.6 E250 is & I don't have any problems in traffic with it. 

I remember he had to have the injection rebuilt & it was kind of an expensive hassle, but that was before I drove it.  

accordionfolder
accordionfolder SuperDork
1/12/22 5:43 p.m.

In reply to Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) :

I've never driven a 7.3 IDI but I've always wondered how overblown the whole "it's so slow you'll die thing" was. Do you heppen to remember which trans and rear-end this was with? Generally speaking, with towing you shouldn't be in a hurry, but with my 7.3 PSD truck when going through city-centers having some getup and go has gone a ways to making me feel a bit better it must be said.

Rodan
Rodan SuperDork
1/12/22 5:57 p.m.

I owned a '94 F250 460 gas, '95 F250 Powerstroke, and 2000 F250 powerstroke.  Both diesels were manual trans.  The 2000 was the best all around by far, but it was a completely different truck to be fair.  Neither of the diesels were quiet, much louder than my current Ram Cummins by comparison, but had plenty of power at the time.  The 2000 would regularly return better than 20mpg at 70-75mph on the highway empty, and pulling a 6x12 enclosed trailer (bikes) to Laguna Seca I saw 18mpg.

If you're looking at OBS trucks (97 and earlier), I would strongly consider the 460 gas.  Much cheaper to buy than the diesels, and much easier to maintain.   You will pay a bit of penalty on MPGs, but our 460 truck got 14 on the highway and 10-12 in town.  +1 on an F350 if you want a 4x4... I'm not a fan of the TTB.  

All of them are far simpler than today's trucks, but everything will be old.  Most parts are readily available and cheap, because they made zillions of them.  Except interior parts... not much in the way of repro parts out there, and what is available is expensive.  And 90s plastic stuff didn't age well.

I really liked my '95... standard cab longbed, manual trans, bench seat, rubber floor and no headliner.  Just your basic 'grandpa special' truck.  

bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter)
bearmtnmartin (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
1/12/22 6:14 p.m.

A 7.3 can be no newer that 1988. Any 1988 pickup is going to be a noisy slow dog compared to anything newer. By the standards of the day they were fine.

John87
John87 New Reader
1/12/22 7:11 p.m.

I picked up a 93 F350 LWB 7.3 IDI 5 speed 4x4 Dually a few months ago. I have not put a ton of miles on it yet (bought with 152, has about 155k now) and aside from brake issues (E brake cable stuck and toasted the rear shoes) its been good to me. Most of those miles were hauling and towing.

 

Does it tow? Yes. Will you win the race against a semi up the mountain? No, most likely you won't. It goes, just not fast. I towed my 27' camper weighing about 8k and the flatbed loaded with approximately 4k pounds of tools and garage stuff from Gettysburg Pa to north of Scranton Pa (those of you familiar with the mountains on 81 and 84 know) and at times I was flat out in 4th to hold 45mph. She kept going, but you have to adjust your expectations of a non-turbo mechanical diesel.

 

I have no ragerts

03Panther
03Panther UltraDork
1/12/22 7:57 p.m.

In reply to accordionfolder :

The IDI is slow, either 6.9 or 7.3. The DI 7.3, as said, is a much different engine, and was the first to use the power stroke name. So there were no early '90s PS trucks. 
As to slow, yes by todays standards. But OBS PS (DI) trucks, were slow by todays standards, also. Whew... that's a lot of abbreviation / acronyms cheeky
And none (not even the slow chebby 6.2/6.5) are as slow as a MB diesel of that era!

03Panther
03Panther UltraDork
1/12/22 8:07 p.m.

Legend explained:

OBS = old body style. ie 1980 to 1997. Specifically, later half of that. 


IDI = indirect injection

DI = direct injection

PS is short for powerstroke, just a marketing name starting with the DI 7.3 (designed for a turbo, not just added later, as in the IDIs)

ferd, inter-trash-and-all, and kitty cat all jointly developed the injection style used on the 7.3, 444E and 3126, respectively. Released around 1994. 

Uncle David (Forum Supporter)
Uncle David (Forum Supporter) Reader
1/12/22 8:25 p.m.

My kid #1 has a '91 F250 7.3 idi 5 speed 3.55.  It's slow, but not beat-it-in-a footrace slow. Empty, it keeps up with traffic just fine, and that's before he turned up the pump (a little). It's LOUD from idle to redline.  My son reports that it's uncomfortably loud at speeds above 65, and his is a loaded Lariat.

In the early 90's, my father briefly had an '84 E250 with a 6.9 idi and C6. That was pretty darn slow.  While towing a car on an open trailer up a modest grade, it would hold 55 with my foot on the floor, but I think it would happily do exactly that for entire tanks of fuel at a time.

These are cool engines. Simple and emissions-free. All the hardware is Grade 8, even the valve cover bolts, all 'murican sizes, and everything is easy to work on.

grover
grover Dork
1/12/22 10:05 p.m.

I should add that my 97 xlt was a pretty good interstate cruiser towing or not. If you're empty, you can't hear the engine much, and the cruise won't shift unless it's a pretty long grade. I know I've driven from Chattanooga, TN to West Palm Beach without it shifting in cruise- I always thought that was kind of neat. Towing is about the same- although my truck did not love towing our triple axle enclosed car hauler up monteagle mountain- but that's fairly extreme. It had no problem pulling multiple travel trailers around and spent most of its life pulling a rather larger 5er. 

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