Preferred Rides of the Big Dogs
As of mid-July, the world's best team ropers were scrambling up and down the highway in the following brands of semis, trucks, and trailers:
Clay Tryan: Dodge dually/Bloomer 4-horse with living quarters
Patrick Smith: Dodge dually/Bloomer 4-horse with living quarters
Travis Tryan: Dodge dually/Bloomer 4-horse with living quarters
Allen Bach: Freightliner/Bloomer 4-horse with living quarters
Charly Crawford: Freightliner/C&C 4-horse with living quarters
Richard Durham: Dodge dually/Bloomer 4-horse with living quarters
Jake Barnes: Volvo semi/Bloomer 4-horse with living quarters
Kory Koontz: Freightliner/Bloomer 4-horse with living quarters
David Key: Dodge dually/C&C 4-horse with living quarters
Cody Cowden: Dodge dually/Circle J 3-horse bumper-pull
Steve Purcella: Dodge dually/Platinum Coach 4-horse with living quarters
BJ Campbell: Ford dually and Capri camper/"little old steel stock trailer"
Tee Woolman: Volvo semi/4-Star 4-horse with living quarters
Britt Bockius: Dodge dually/Bloomer 4-horse with living quarters
Wade Wheatley: Dodge dually/Bloomer 4-horse with living quarters
Clayton Grant: Ford dually/Elite 4-horse with living quarters
Speed Williams: Freightliner/Bloomer 4-horse with living quarters
Kyle Lockett: Dodge dually/4-Star 4-horse with living quarters
Blaine Linaweaver: Ford crew cab/Sooner 3-horse with living quarters
Rich Skelton: Motor home/Bloomer 4-horse bumper-pull
Jake Stanley: Dodge dually/Xpress 4-horse with living quarters
Dusty Morse: Chevy Duramax crew cab/Classic 4-horse with living quarters
Matt Funk: Dodge Quad Cab/Classic 4-horse with living quarters
Jay and Ryon Tittel: Freightliner/Exiss 4-horse with living quarters
Not everyone agrees on the pros and cons of the big semis dotting American fairgrounds at ropings and rodeos, but it's all about priorities for the top headers and heelers on the road.
Patrick Smith keeps driving his pickup because he likes to be able to unhook and run around town. Shain Sproul's new Duramax was in the shop back in July, but he still prefers it to the big truck he had before it. With more horsepower comes more hassle, he said, including the need for a CDL license.
Blaine Linaweaver also prefers a pickup, but then again, his three-horse trailer really isn't heavy enough to justify a semi. Of the guys who pull with pickups, Dodge is the overwhelming choice in 2005. David Key won the use of a Dodge last year and liked it so much he bought it. Matt Funk says his Dodge is more durable and seems to get better mileage than other pickups, even if it has less power or isn't as pretty a ride.
"I've traveled with some guys in trucks, and those semis take some getting used to," Funk said. "I don't drive them that well. They're less expensive than a pickup, but if you can't drive them, they're not too safe!"
World champ Allen Bach is an old hand at driving the Freightliner he's had for three years. Heavy trailers like his tend to push pickups around, he said. Jake Barnes is of the same mind, and likes his big truck for the stopping power he has with a trailer. Barnes' Volvo has an added bonus-its two-bed living area is just right for his driver, leaving the trailer for he and his family.
Kory Koontz' 2000 10-speed Freightliner is as big as they come, and it's around to stay.
"I've had pickups my whole career and I was tired of losing money on them," he said. "I wanted something I could drive for several years and not go in the hole on."
Tee Woolman loves his semi for a different reason-the Air Ride cab is easier on his body. Driving pickups for hours at a time made him tired and sore. Rich Skelton vetoed a truck and a semi in favor of a motor home that provides more room for the new family addition-his little girl. Despite having to rent a car when he's in town for a few days, he has no regrets on the ride.
Colorado brothers Jay and Ryon Tittel like their FL60 because size-wise, it's between a pickup and a semi-small enough to get around town but with an engine that should go a half-million miles.
And then there are still some undecideds. Steve Purcella has had everything, and recently traded his little semi for a dually pickup-but he liked the semi just as well. And Dugan Kelly has had a big truck for a year, but is thinking of going back to a pickup.
Aluminum Trailer Manufacturers
Barrett; www.barrett-trailers.com; Purcell, Okla.; 405-527-5050
Bloomer; www.bloomertrailers.com; Salado, Texas; 800-390-6377
C&C; www.candctrailers.com; Norman, Okla.; 888-360-2310
CM; www.cmtrailers.com; Madill, Okla.; 888-268-7577
Charmac; www.charmactrailers.com; Twin Falls, Idaho; 800-544-7904
Classic; www.classictrailersinc.com; Wilder, Idaho; 208-482-7581
Elite; www.elitetrailer.com; Oklahoma City, Okla.; 405-745-5757
Exiss; www.exiss.com; El Reno, Okla; 877-55-EXISS
Featherlite; www.flht.com; Cresco, Iowa; 800-800-1230
4-Star; www.4startrailers.com; Oklahoma City, Okla.; 800-848-3095
Hart; www.harttrailer.com; Chickasha, Okla.; 888-810-HART
Keifer Built; www.kieferbuiltinc.com; Kanahwa, Iowa; 888-2-KIEFER
Platinum; www.platinumcoach.net; Albany, Ore., 888-333-7215
Sooner; www.soonertrailer.com; Elkhart, Ind.; 800-256-6668
Sundowner; www.sundownertrailer.com; Coleman, Okla.; 800-654-3879
As far as pickups go, the "big three" heavy-duty truck manufacturers are gearing up for 2006 sales. Here's what's new:
Dodge "Hits It" with New Mega Cab
Dodge has long touted its Cummins pickup as the strongest truck around with 610 lbs.-ft torque. That pulling power might be easy to appreciate from behind the wheel, but anyone who has ever tried to pry themselves out of that tiny backseat must have wondered how long it would take Dodge to make a true crew cab.
The wait is over. Dodge whacked some 20 inches off its former eight-foot bed to come up with "the biggest cab ever built on a pickup." The 2006 Dodge Ram Mega Cab not only has a whopping 44.2 inches of leg room in back (from 36.5 inches), but the cab is advertised as being more than a foot longer than the 2005 Ford F-250 Crew Cab.
As an added bonus, the truck boasts the first reclining rear seats available in a pickup (they also split and fold down). You can deck out that big rear seat with a DVD entertainment system and power sliding rear window at will. Enjoy a bigger middle console and intimidate other drivers with the Mega Cab's big chrome grille and massive front bumper.
The truck comes in SLT and Laramie trim on 1500, 2500, or 3500 models with Cummins and HEMI engines. The new Cummins is available with a six-speed manual transmission or automatic. The Mega Cab will join regular-cab and Quad Cab Dodge trucks at dealerships this fall.
Dodge is also proud of its Common-Rail Direct Injection, which means a quieter diesel engine. Along those lines, watch for Dodge to finish up production of its Ram Diesel HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle). The hybrid boasts a fuel savings of up to 15 percent over comparable engines and can also act as an electric generator, providing 110/220-volt AC power wherever it happens to be parked. The electric motor shuts off at a full stop and restarts when you hit the gas pedal, while a regenerative braking system helps recharge the supplemental batteries.
New Looks for Built-Tough Fords
Two new exterior packages are available on Ford trucks, including the Chrome Package (chrome step bars, grille, exhaust tip, mirror caps, and tie-down hooks) available on XLT and Lariat SuperCabs and Crew Cabs.
The Amarillo Package, available on Lariat Crew Cabs, features a blazing yellow paint job with 18" polished aluminum wheels, chrome exterior accents and black leather accents inside. Also watch for new colors in the King Ranch Edition, including black or blue metallic with Arizona Beige. The luxury version also offers shiny 20-inch wheels.
If you order the TowCommand System on your 2006 Ford, you'll get the industry's first factory-installed and warranted electronic trailer brake controller, a TorquShift transmission with tow-haul mode, and telescoping side mirrors.
The new Super Duty transmissions include a manual six-speed and TorqShift five-speed automatic. Ford's electronic throttle control also includes a stationary elevated idle control feature.
Ford's F-Series can be customized in hundreds of thousands of option combinations like keypad entry and packages like Trailer Tow. Every new Ford has a BeltMinder for safety, and on the XLT and King Ranch trucks you'll enjoy seats with manual lumbar support, electric automatic climate control, a trip computer, overhead console, and self-dimming electrochromic rearview mirror.
The King Ranch still features that rear console and leather and wood-trimmed interior features, along with reverse vehicle aid sensor, lighted cab steps with diamond-plate inserts, and a power-sliding rear window and moonroof. Also available are telescoping mirrors with power heated glass and integrated clearance lights and turn signals.
Chevy Cracks Out A New Duramax
There's a whole new Duramax coming in 2006 with an optional power package that delivers 360 horsepower and 650 torque. Plus, the folks at Chevy have upgraded their Allison 1000 five-speed for a new six-speed automatic transmission.
Bells and whistles on the new trannie include a thumb-activated switch on the shifter that will let you pre-select-and hold-any gear, and a cruise-control braking system that automatically downshifts when you're going down hills. A new low-traction mode torque-manages the engine to limit wheel slip on slick surfaces.
The new trucks also boast a new higher-pressure fuel pump and seven-hole fuel injectors that spray directly onto glow plugs for better starts. They're also promising glow plugs that heat up faster through an independent controller.
The Duramax has a revised turbocharger and new exhaust braking, while the new VortecMAX Performance Package offers 345 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. in the Vortec 6000 gas engine.
Chevy's 2006 three-quarter ton trucks have a revised grille design and new dome hood borrowed from the 3500 models, and new exterior colors include Blue Granite Metallic and Graystone Metallic. But how can you go wrong with Victory Red?
The OnStar Plus package on a new Silverado includes OnStar, XM Satellite Radio and steering wheel radio controls. Plus, OnStar and XM Satellite Radio antennas are now combined into a single unit.
Chevy's Driver Information Center still comes standard, but now you can order rear seat heat ducts and rear-seat audio controls. GM's Passenger Sensing System even turns the front passenger air bag on or off depending on its occupant.
That ain't all. Any brand of truck you order in 2006 will come with an obscene list of available options including power sunroofs, leather and wood interior trimming, DVD systems, dual-zone temperature controls; 6-disc changers, power-adjustable pedals, rear window defrosters, and heated and tinted mirrors.
Leave 'em in the Diesel Fumes
The newest product to come out of Banks Power is the Techni-Cooler, designed to dramatically boost air flow volume, thus increasing engine power. On Duramax, Power Stroke, and Cummins trucks the coolant system helps you get more power with less smoke and lower EGTs.
The combination of the Techni-Cooler, larger boost tubes, and Banks' High-Ram intake can mean up to a third more power. The Banks airflow components are available separately and can be used with any manufacturer's computer tuner.
The company's new Big Hoss Bundle, featuring the Six-Gun Diesel Tuner and Speed-Loader upgrade, can spike the power of any late-model diesel engine by more than 50 percent. The Speed-Loader upgrade provides additional horsepower and torque with the safeguard of limiting fuel delivery when exhaust temperatures reach a preset temp.
On the Ford 6.0L, specifically, it can pump up the output by as much as 138 hp and 231 lb-ft of torque, all with the simple twist of a dial on the dash. This knob manipulates three basic engine parameters: fuel pressure, timing, and injector pulse width. The Six-Gun works alone or with any chip, on the fly, and also provides intake, turbo, exhaust and transmission upgrades.
A Big Hoss-equipped 6.0-liter Power Stroke cuts more than a football field (336 ft) off a stock pickup's 0-60 mph acceleration distance and more than two seconds off its acceleration time. On a Duramax, the Big Hoss doubles horsepower at 2000 RPM and ups torque 84 percent from stock. A tuned-up diesel Chevy can then blister a quarter of a mile far ahead of stock and will take a third less distance to reach 60 mph.
Banks' new exhaust systems significantly reduce backpressure, helping the engine breathe, and the company's exclusive muffler reduces the "drone" common in diesels using aftermarket mufflers. Two electronic gauges come with the Big Hoss Bundle. The pyrometer monitors exhaust gas temperatures, which can mean the difference between a long-lasting engine and one that has a short life, and the boost gauge monitors power and turbocharger performance.
These tuners can be mounted anywhere from under the dash to the rearview mirror, and the entire bundle is installable by you and a mechanically competent buddy in a weekend.
According to Banks Power, a Big Hoss Bundle-and its accompanying 750 lb.-ft. total torque-will make pulling a living quarters feel more like pulling your kid's little red wagon.
Spankin' New Trailer Models
Featherlite has a new two-horse bumper-pull for sale in 2006, and a new version of the Clinton Anderson Downunder Edition. For ropers on a budget, the two-horse is all aluminum, has an aero-dynamic v-nose with a walk-through door, drop-down feed doors and noise-reducing rubber-coated tie rings. It can be pulled with an SUV, so it's great as a second trailer or for short trips. With a removable divider, it also works to haul your equipment, motorcycle, or furniture.
Clinton Anderson personally picked out the features on Featherlite's new Model 9406, in which the dressing room now includes a carpeted boot box and full-length mirror. The Featherlite Deluxe 100X living quarters package includes a new tin ceiling, oak crown molding, rope lighting and solid oak cabinets.
Also new for 2006 on Featherlite's standard models are optional Mocha Tan side sheets, along with the red, silver and black sheets currently available. And an enclosed hay rack pod is now optional on all trailers to offer more protection for hay and other items stored on top of the trailer.
At Sooner Trailers, the main focus continues to be on the safety and comfort of the horse, said marketing manager Kyle Golden.
"That way it's easier on the person doing the driving, if they're not worried about the horses," he said. "One of the main features that sets us apart is our exclusive slam-latch on the side wall between dividers-it's recessed with no sharp edges, so a horse won't catch it on the way by."
Universal Trailer offers no-money-down, same-as-cash, and deferred interest financing programs on all Sooner and Exiss trailers, and last summer gave rebates to AQHA members. The lower-cost Exiss trailers have many of the same features as the custom-built Sooners, with more models available.
Sundowner claims it has the highest-quality trailer made, so it offers a three-year hitch-to-bumper warranty and eight-year limited structural (transferable) warranty. Bloomer calls itself the world's leading manufacturer of custom and state-of-the-art horse trailers, and claims to be the only manufacturer using the heaviest-gauge aluminum in trailer designs.
Finally, watch this fall for a totally different design in 4-Star trailers. The company is changing the doors on the custom-built 4-Stars, as well as their shape and skins, to come up with a whole new trailer. The 2006 models will be available to order this fall and will be ready to go in December.