My first time wheeling a 6.7 Tremor - Impressions

Cybermig

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Warning - this is a long post..... I thought I'd post my first time impressions of wheeling these big beasts in the tighter areas more commonly found east of the Mississippi. First off I'd call myself "experienced" in the off-roading category as in "it's not my first time". Before the Tremor I owned a fully built Toyota Land Cruiser 200 Series that gave me years of fun on and off-road and the LandCruiser wasn't small by any means and compared to most of the vehicles of my buddies wheeling rigs, I was usually the largest rig out there. Previously I've wheeled my 200 in many areas of the north east, southeast and some wheeling in the Moab/Canyonloads areas. Throughout my time with the 200, I had been called crazy a couple of times by passer by's for wheeling such a big and expensive vehicle but I tended to brush that off by countering, I'm just using the vehicle for what it was designed to do. Now on to the Tremor, I think years of wheeling a big 200 series is good prep for wheeling an even bigger Tremor. When wheeling a big SUV, you learn your vehicles dimensions pretty quick, you learn what lines to take that will and won't cause body or undercarriage damage and more importantly you learn what your limits are of if you will or wont get stuck if I go the A route or the B route.

The Tremor drawfs my old 200 series in many categories which isn't a good thing when trying to wheel in tighter areas like Windrock Park in East TN. Weight, height, width, approach/departure angles, breakover angles, undercarriage armor plating, lack of rock sliders are all negatives vs my old setup. As this was my first time taking the Tremor to Windrock, my goal was to stretch the truck's legs a bit but not trash it or get it stuck.... really just a mild shakedown to see how it does and boy was I "pleasantly surprised". Several of the factory mods were seemingly "just enough" to help the truck get by unscathed on several green and blue trails. The motto, "slow and steady wins the race" is something that holds true with a Tremor. Sure you can barrel down a trail at speed and get through obstacles but you'll like take a tree with you or move a boulder in the process. Or you can take your time and have great pedal control and get through pretty clean and leave the trails for the day with just some light pinstriping from the overgrown brush.

This past weekend at Windrock was a big Toyota event (Appalachian Toyota Round-up) that my cousin's shop Asheville Vehicle Outifitters (AVO) was at as a vendor and on Saturday we got a good portion of the day to go wheeling so Mike Morrison from Morrison's Outdoor Adventures and our AVO crew got together for a day of fun. We started on a couple of green trails up the mountain and then connected with a few blue trails. The green's are usually wide, not very steep and have little to no rock features and depending on weather, may or may not be rutted and muddy. The blues tend to get tight and narrow (for a tremor) really quick, usually have some mud, and some rock features and often times are rutted out depending on where you are in the park. IMO... black rated trails are no place for a stock Tremor unless you want scratched wheels, body and undercarriage damage and likely some element of having to back out or just plain getting stuck.... I stuck with the greens and blues for this weekend and had a great time doing so.

Mike from Morrison's Outdoor Adventures had plotted a "thru" route through Windock that started us at the base of Windrock and ended up with us exiting the park at Frozen Head State Park. From there we headed over to the Nemo Tunnel and that was an awesome short experience as well.

I"ll frame my impressions in the form of the "good, bad and the ugly"... but most everything I have to say is good :)

The Good: We had ideal weather at Windrock this past weekend and little rain previous to the weekend so the mud was light, ruts were pretty non existent on the trails we went on and the temperature in the shade was great - mid 70's. The truck's factory mods made a difference (35" tires, mild lift) in keeping the truck up and out of the way of hitting the fuel tank and bumpers. The factory crawl ratio (which is best in class) is amazing on the descents and climbs, 4-LO in 1st gear is ideal to have when the terrain is all over the place and you're trying to navigate obstacles that will do damage to the truck. Normally the truck wants to be in 2nd gear and above when driving in 4-LO as 1st gear is a pure crawling gear but its awesome how even on a steep decline of 15 degrees or more how the crawl gear simply keeps the truck in at a steady speed with no input from gas or brakes. One of my gripes about the crawl gear though is coming up in the bad section.... but continuing with the good.
The truck was working throughout the day with no complaints, I had my OBD-II reader on the truck monitoring vehicle real-time data such as Engine coolant, engine oil and transmission temps and I was happy to see that none of the temps climbed at all over their normal on-road temps. They just hovered at about 195 degrees all day. Intake temps were about 85 degrees and charged air intake temps (post inter cooler) stayed between 95 and 135 degrees. All in all the truck was plain happy being out in the woods... I used the multi-terrain select (Slippery mode) one time in a big mud-hole I had to drive through to continue forward but with but the base was hard enough that I didn't feel any effect of the traction control system. I used the real locker twice over a couple rock gardens and was happy to see that they engaged and disengaged immediately after toggling the switch. The same with the transfer case, I experienced no long lags between switching from 2WD-4HI-4LO, just some audible clicks as things switched up which is to be expected. Prior to going wheeling I had applied a ceramic coating to the paint as I was expecting some pinstriping (it's inevitable wheeling in tight areas) but after cleaning up the truck I was happy to see that only some light scratching had occurred and that the places that I didn't coat, were the places that had scratches (the side mirrors and black window moldings). The main body of the truck managed to only pickup 2-3 scratches and I was certain that on the trails I was going to pick-up full truck length scratches since I heard that awful sound that you get when you run finger nails on a chalkboard..... I'm a big believer now that ceramic coats can certainly help prevent some scratching on the trucks.
I aired the tires down to 45 upfront, 35 in the rear and I found that worked fine for the day.... didn't give up too much side wall bulge and didn't sacrifice too much of that critical ride height but offered enough comfort in the cab. Also fuel-efficiency on the trail was laughably good.. I maybe burned 5 gallons of fuel idling and wheeling at low speed over 6 hours of having fun. This vs my buddies in their gasoline engines burned at least twice as much fuel as me.

The bad: Not much to complain about the truck when your expectations are kept in check.... The Tremor is friggen huge on the trails.... so just keep your expectations set and you shouldn't be disappointed. You will expend more mental energy trying to wheel this truck since you have so much more truck to wheel than your buddies will, it's just a fact. If you're like me, you want to use your truck but not abuse it meaning you're just trying to have as good a time as you can without trashing your super nice truck so just go nice and slow in the tight areas and watch out for the following areas under the truck.... the plastic oil pan (not protected from factory), the fuel tank (the factory skid isn't a bash plate) and the drive-shaft. Also don't forget about your full-size spare tire, it's big and vulnerable if you don't relocate it to your bed. With the low departure angle on these trucks, the factory spare is the most likely piece of equipment to come in to contact with the ground in a steep incline or in a rock garden where a rock can easily puncture the vulnerable sidewall. Take note of the weight of the these trucks too... while for me I was used to my porky 8000# LC 200 before when it was loaded, this truck is just as heavy if not more so when it's empty. Loaded up with family and gear, this truck will easily get over 9000# which puts it in the super-heavyweight category. But at least the factory suspension and tires handle the weight well. As is the case at Windock, most of the trails have some drainage ditches and culverts that our heavy trucks if you're not careful will simply just crush or create a washout over if you stay close to the edge. I plan at some point soon to install a slide-in camper in the bed and wheel with that so when I do I'll be tipping the scales are 10000#s, I'll be the Butterbean (boxing reference) of wheeling rigs then I guess.

To be continued....
 

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Cybermig

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The ugly: Not much to put in this category here other than a nit-picky complaint I have with the amount of slop in the drive-line of the truck. I haven't figured out where the slop is yet (Transmission, Transfer case, drive shaft, or differentials) or if it's a combination of those components. I only noticed this slop during steep descents where I had the truck in the crawl gear and actuated the brakes. In the crawl gear (4-LO 1st gear), there's so much torque on hand that slowing the truck down even further requires some decent braking which is to be expected. What you feel with the slop is a jutting back and forth effect paired with some audible gear "clacking" as you hear metal surfaces hitting each other in almost a slapping fashion. It almost feels like there's too much backlash (or too little depending on your reference point) between the gears in the drive-line overall. At our AVO shop when we build differentials, we specifically measure and spec backlash in the helical gears to eliminate this back and forth rocking effect which not only feels bad to the driver but isn't great for ring and pinion gears themselves. If you don't actuate the brakes during a step decent, then you won't feel this effect as the drive-line remains loaded full-time however if you're going over a steep decline, usually like a rocky descent where you want to use the brakes with the crawl ratio you're likely to feel what I'm talking about. As the brakes help shoulder the load of the truck, the drive-line get's a quick break and as you ease off the brakes and the drive-line picks up of the load, because of the on hand torque from the monster 6.7, the drive-line engages and lightly lunges the truck forward and you start the rocking motion as the truck clacks between the gear teeth in the drive-line. I assume the slop exists in the transfer case just based on where I could hear it best which seemed below the rear passenger windows and maybe the slop is there for a reason (i.e. allows easier shifting of 4wd modes). I know this is nit-picky but it was my only real gripe as far as first impressions go.

Final words: Overall the truck surpassed my expectations wheeling wise which makes me feel great knowing that it was money well spent for both on-road and off-road applications. VS a stock Ram Power Wagon or Silverado AT4, I think the Tremor is the best full-size truck you can buy. Sometime later this year I might have the opportunity to lift the truck and put bigger rubber under it which will put the truck further from harms way of big rocks to the vulnerable areas. I'll post a few pics and videos from this weekend below. If you haven't been to Windrock and the Nemo Tunnel, they're worth checking out.
 
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Cybermig

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Video of Mike Morrison getting me through a rocky descent. The big rock in the video would typically hurt a lesser lifted vehicle. Mike really does make wheeling a less stressful experience...

 
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Cybermig

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I normally avoid mud like the plague but in this case it was either go through it or go back... I was too big to go around the detour... 2 other trucks went ahead of me and found the base to be hard enough to not sink the heavy Tremor. Because of this hole, i had an extra hour of cleaning to do....

 
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driftwoodsvt

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Great pictures! Looks like you had a blast! :)
 

PapaRaptor

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nice write up! agree with you on it. It's "big" off road .
 

Vigilance247

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Video of Mike Morrison getting me through a rocky descent. The big rock in the video would typically hurt a lesser lifted vehicle. Mike really does make wheeling a less stressful experience...
Nice video! So nice to see the whole family having fun.
 

Whyte Rhyno

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very cool. thanks for the impressions
 

Grabber

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I commend you, big truck to take trail driving!!
 

Iron Man

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It was a good time indeed but I was stressed for sure during the drive.... next time wont be so bad.
Loved your posts. And your very detailed accounts. Please keep sharing. So helpful. I ordered my 2021 on 8/24 and still found myself wanting more of your story. Thanks
 

modified

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Awesome review! Thanks for taking the time sharing your experience with everyone on the forum. (y)
 
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