Can Judy haul loads of gravel in her '74 Ford F-100?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 2009

Dear Tom and Ray:

My husband inherited a 1974 Ford F-100 from his dad, and I would like to use it to pick up a load of rocks for landscaping. My husband says it can't handle this, and so I ask the question: Can the truck handle it? The drive is about 19 miles from the house, and I'm only talking about a scoop of rocks from a cement company. They basically scoop the rocks and dump them on the truck. I'm not sure about the weight of the rocks. Hope you can help ... I have an acre and would like to landscape part of my yard to avoid mowing a large area. My husband could just be making an excuse. -- Judy

TOM: It can't handle it, Judy. First we'll give you the technical explanation, then we'll give you the marital explanation.

RAY: We haven't seen a '74 F-100 in ages. But the "100" designation meant that it was designed to carry up to half a ton, or 1,000 pounds.

TOM: Or two and a half mothers-in-law.

RAY: So the question is, What does a pickup-truck-bed full of rocks weigh? According to our rock insiders, dry gravel weighs around 100 pounds a cubic foot. That's heavy.

TOM: I don't know if your F100 has a 6-foot bed or an 8-foot bed, but let's say it has an 8-foot bed. That means the bed is approximately 4 feet by 8 feet, or 32 square feet. And if you pile the gravel 1 foot high, you have 32 cubic feet. That's 3,200 pounds.

RAY: Or four broken springs and two broken axles.

TOM: Even with a 6-foot bed, it's still more than twice as much as the truck was rated to carry.

RAY: And before you start wondering if you could load only 4 inches of gravel in there, and make three trips, we'll give you the marital reason for not doing this: If you do, every time the slightest squeak or groan comes from the truck, your husband will forever blame it on "that time you hauled the rocks in it." So it's just not worth it, Judy.

TOM: But there is good news. Almost every place that sells really heavy stuff delivers! And as an added bonus, they'll dump it, so you don't even have to unload it yourself. What could be better than that?

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