The Ford F-550 has proven itself to be a capable fifth-wheel tow vehicle with a gross combination weight rating (gcwr) suitable for all but the heaviest trailers. For 2003, it’s available with the new 6.0-liter Power Stroke diesel and five-speed automatic transmission, with a hearty soul and a 17,400-pound tow rating.
The Power Stroke 6.0-liter has been in service for a couple of years in International trucks and buses, but was first offered in Ford pickups and the Excursion for 2003. Equipped with four valves per cylinder, a next-generation injection system and a variable-geometry turbocharger, the new 6.0-liter bests the old 7.3-liter at 325 hp and 560 lb-ft of torque. This is a relatively high-revving diesel, making peak torque at 2,000 rpm with a redline about twice that.
Sharing a history of large vehicles, King of the Road (KOTR) has launched a more budget-friendly line of fifth-wheels called the LS series. This 35-foot 7-inch-long F34BW-LS, with a gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr) of 14,800 pounds, could probably be pulled with a low-option ¾- or 1-ton pickup.
The F34BW-LS weighs 13,600 pounds, leaving about 1,200 pounds for personal stuff, provisions and any other options. Construction is similar to other KOTR models, with vacubonded fiberglass side walls over aluminum framing, molded endcaps, a Brite-Tek vinyl-poly roof, polystyrene-foam insulation and wood-framed floor supports with ¾-inch tongue-and-groove deck — all riding on I-beam chassis rails. Although the LS is designed to be easier on the wallet, it maintains 365 square feet of living area.
Our F-550 could handle a ton more than this near-36-footer, so even larger trailers would be suitable for towing by the Fontaine-converted truck.
The King of the Road LS has all the room and livability of a bigger fifth-wheel, but starts at $10,000 to $20,000 less.
Pick up the September 2003 issue of Trailer Life for full test impressions and details on the F-550 & King of the Road 34 LS — then subscribe to Trailer Life — so you can stay informed on the latest tow vehicles, tests, previews, and technical and RV-lifestyle information.
Fontaine Truck Equipment Co., (205) 841-8582, fonatine.com
King of the Road, (866) 400-9840, kingoftheroadrv.com.