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  1. Default Road trip to Alaska

    So summer 2012, I plan on driving from Pennsylvania to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Yes that is correct. Deadhorse, AK to the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. The vehicle I plan to use is a Ford F150. The journey is roughly 9000-10000 for a roundtrip. I will hopefully average 20mpg with this truck and if fuel is roughly $3.50 per gallon then gas would be maybe $2000. For know I am wondering what modifications I need to do to my truck in order have it ready for this journey of epic proportions. Take in mind once I get into Canada and Alaska and past Fairbanks north I'll be on the Dalton highway where the road conditions aren't exactly good. Advice?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Joplin MO
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    Welcome to the forums - from another F-150 owner!

    Do you already own the truck or are you planning on buying one? If you already have it, could you post the basic details - year, model, engine, gas tank size, etc.

    I'm afraid that 20 mpg may be a bit of wishful thinking, and $3.50 gas is not realistic. It's already well over that all the way through Canada and Alaska, and the way things are going, it could possibly be 5 bucks a gallon down here by then.

    Basic preparations for the Dalton are on the linked BLM site.

    Although people make the drive all the time in standard FWD sedans, I don't think I'd want to do it without 4wd and M+S tires. That's just me though. I like my truck too much to beat it up on that road!

  3. Default Antecdotal Hearsay

    I have never been to Alaska, but sure wish to some day. However, my wife's brother has been there to visit his son several times, including the imfamaous drive down the dalton, or as they call it, the Haul Road.

    According to him, the big rigs have control over the road and let you know it. Hold off on any windshield repairs until after your trip because flying stones are a fact of life on that road. His son works out there, and his truck is all chipped up.

    He also told me that the views along the road were spectacular, and that he saw herds of Caribu that went on and on.

    Sure wish I was able to make that trip.

  4. Default

    The truck is a 2004 Ford F150 FX4 model. It is already pretty equipped for off roading from the factory but are they any other things I can do to it to prepare it for this daunting task?

  5. #5
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    That's a good truck for this trip. I'm active on a F-150 forum so I am aware of the common problems with them - in your case, I'd carry a spare fuel pump driver module unless you have already replaced yours with the improved part that comes with standoffs. It's mounted above the spare tire and is subject to corrosion and cracking. If you have not done so already, I'd replace the spark plugs - and be aware of the sticking and breaking issues with them on the 5.4 3 valve engine. I'd change the transmission fluid, transfer case fluid, and the fluid in both differentials before leaving. I'd get some kind of bug and rock shield for the front end. I'd carry at least 2 full size spare tires.

    Gas mileage? I would not count on averaging more than about 15, and as I said, gas will be considerably more expensive in Canada and Alaska than it is down here. Right now, I'd guess that you are paying about $3.15 in PA. I would expect the prices right now along the Alaska Highway to be at least $1.25 CDN per liter, which equals about $4.75 US per gallon. The prices in the Fairbanks area are around $3.70 and I would expect the prices in Coldfoot and Prudhoe to be well over $4.

  6. Default

    Hi there,

    I live in a village close to Prudhoe Bay. I can tell you that the Dalton drive is not as dramatic and terrifying as it seems to be on Ice Road Truckers- that show is a little ridiculous actually. I know loads of people who drive it routinely, and even some quite elderly ladies who have driven it alone in ragged old trucks during the icy dark Winter.

    It's sure to be beautiful and you are sure to see plenty of wildlife. In terms of gas, I just flew back from Fairbanks yesterday and it was 3.52 there when I left, and 4.25 in Deadhorse. I hear in Canada it's always more expensive.

  7. #7

    Default If it were my trip..........

    Quote Originally Posted by camopaint0707 View Post
    The truck is a 2004 Ford F150 FX4 model. It is already pretty equipped for off roading from the factory but are they any other things I can do to it to prepare it for this daunting task?
    Hello camo,

    You're looking at a trip I am hoping to make one of these days. I hope you can pull it off.

    I'd say it's probably not the off-roading potential which needs to be addressed, as it's my understanding there are strict rules concerning leaving the marked roads along the Haul Road. Instead, my recommendations are primarily concerned dealing with normal on-highway travel as affected by the long distances between available parts and assistance in Canada and Alaska.

    I'm big on carrying replacement parts which I am capable of installing without special tools, etc. It's more a point of getting going quickly after a failure as opposed to having to wait for parts and having to pay Canadian or Alaskan prices for parts. If your '04 truck has the original radiator hoses, heater hoses, and serpentine belt, I'd replace all of them before the trip and take the old ones as spares. Obviously you'd also need a full measure of coolant (just get the pre-mixed unless you also want to carry water). I'd also change the air filter and fuel filter, discard the old air filter, take another new one for the remainder of the trip FOLLOWING the dusty Haul Road, and keep the old fuel filter for a spare.

    I'd certainly follow the BLM's suggestion as to two spare tires, plus I'd take a good-quality tire-plugging kit. Since you can't re-inflate a tire without a compressor, I'd look in to a combination jumpstart battery and compressor (but I must add I've burned out two of these devices filling pickup truck tires with air, so now I'm in the market for a better compressor or will install onboard air on my '02 F350 diesel). I suppose I'd also have to consider a hand-pump in the event of a burned-out compressor.

    From a simple Google search for bug screens I found a model (Fila) which attaches to the grille, and it's much easier to remove dried-up bugs from the screen than to wash and pick them out of your radiator. I believe mine would prevent all but the most violently thrown pebbles or pieces of gravel from penetrating the radiator, too, as it's woven from fairly tough nylon webbing. I've seen pictures of homemade windshield covers, too, but that seems to me to be too much and would detract greatly from the scenery, so I'd just be sure I had a comprehensive insurance policy including windshield replacement and would assume I'd need to do so after the Haul Road or once back home.

    I'd consider installing a front receiver hitch receptacle and would put my second spare on it using the available tire-carrier accessory from the same supplier. Take a short-handled spade shovel and a section of 2x10 lumber as a base for your jack, where leveling a spot to change tires and providing a base for the jack may be necessary. Take a "4-way" lug wrench, too, as the ones Ford provides are difficult to use on air-wrench installed lugs. The spare tire carrier can also double as a mounting point for a grille guard/bug screen in the event you choose not to use the direct-mount type like I have. A self-made grille guard might extend a bit higher than necessary and provide some windshield protection without blocking the view too badly. The ones I've seen employ a pvc pipe frame with fine mesh netting attached within.

    If fuel range and/or costs in Canada or along the Haul Road are a big issue, I'd look at a rear-mount hitch-hauler to which I'd securely fasten high-quality steel fuel cans (known as jerry cans). Four of them would add 20 gallons to your capacity and would enable you to cover more of Canada (provided you'd be allowed to cross the border with full external fuel cans) with US-purchased fuel and probably the entire Haul Road with Fairbanks-purchased fuel. You could also mount jerry cans in the truck's bed, but securing them externally via a hitch-hauler would avoid the need for well-installed mounting apparatus in the bed.

    I'd start the trip on a fresh oil and filter change and would budget a change after the dusty Haul Road, before the long trip home (or do as I did last summer and take your own oil and filter plus a sealable drain tank and do your own oil change). If you're running an automatic transmission, spring for a full-system drain and refill, a new internal filter, and have an in-line ATF filter installed. Magnifine enjoys a stellar reputation as a maker of in-line ATF filters. Be aware that a normal ATF service leaves some 40% of the old fluid in the torque converter, valve bodies, and lines. The full-system flush purges all of this old fluid and enables you to make your whole trip with good, fresh fluid and an improved filtering system. From participation on a Ford diesel pickup truck forum, I've learned how to do the full-system flush and it's quite simple, if messy. Long days of sustained highway running is the devil on your automatic transmission, where heat buildup is the primary enemy of automatics, so babying it before the trip is one of the smartest prep items I can think of. If you're still running the OEM fluid and internal filter, by all means get the full-system flush done.

    I'd start the trip with new wiper refills and would save the old ones, if still cleaning well, for spares. I'd also have 2-3 gallons of wiper fluid, a spray bottle for fluid, and my own squeegee. The bug buildup between fuel stops can be amazing (meaning you might want to clean up at a view stop), and having your own squeegee on board eliminates having to worry about the fuel station having a good one.

    I'd take along some fuel treatment for dealing with water in fuel in the event you get a bad batch and the truck starts running poorly right away. Such might allow you to continue on your way rather than wait for service, and the methanol or ethanol-based "water remover" treatments are cheap--heck, take several containers of the stuff.

    Fellow Ford man glc makes a good point about the fuel pump situation. If it were mine, I'd replace it with one of the improved models and would take the old one as a spare.

    Carry a full set if fuses and relays for your truck. A burned out wiper motor fuse or relay won't stop you, but your drive will be miserable until you can replace it. A spare fuse or relay for your fuel pump might well prevent a days-long wait for parts to become available. Carry spare headlight and taillight bulbs for the same reason, and for the added safety of assuring your headlights and taillights are always on and visible on both the Alaska Highway and the Haul Road.

    I would not dream of making such a trip without a CB radio, particularly for the Haul Road portions. I doubt the truckers up there are any more enthused about chatting with we "4-wheelers" than they are here in the Lower 48, but tuning in to their channels and keeping close tabs of your own mile-marker locations will at least let you hear them broadcasting their position and direction and give you a heads-up as to their approach from front or rear. I'd give careful consideration to an occasional broadcast along the lines of "northbound 4-wheeler at the 125 milepost requesting advice on passing northbound or southbound big trucks-- if you'll give me a heads-up, I'll pull over for you".

    I believe in overkill in terms of preparation primarily because I hate to miss out on the fun parts of a RoadTrip due to equipment failure. As was noted elsewhere in this thread, folks do this kind of trip in unmodified automobiles routinely. But if I'm going to expend the kind of time and energy needed to get my truck up to Fairbanks, I'm sure as heck going to assure I can get to Prudhoe Bay and back without mechanical problems!

    Foy

  8. #8
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    Fellow Ford man glc makes a good point about the fuel pump situation. If it were mine, I'd replace it with one of the improved models and would take the old one as a spare.
    It's not the fuel pump itself - that's safely enclosed inside the fuel tank. It's the FPDM, which is an electronic module mounted above the spare tire. Note the corrosion in the second pic, that's what kills them. The improved module comes with standoffs.







    Pictures from fordf150.net

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by puff5655 View Post
    Hi there,

    I live in a village close to Prudhoe Bay. I can tell you that the Dalton drive is not as dramatic and terrifying as it seems to be on Ice Road Truckers- that show is a little ridiculous actually. I know loads of people who drive it routinely, and even some quite elderly ladies who have driven it alone in ragged old trucks during the icy dark Winter.
    Just came across this thread, and I have to say, this is the most sensible comment I have seen on the topic of that grand road, the James W Dalton Highway. When I was in Fairbanks, Coldfoot, Wiseman and Prudhoe Bay, I spoke with many who had driven the road, and only came across one person who had experienced a flat tyre. And that happened by driving over a nail in Prudhoe Bay itself.

    The paranoia about this road seems to come about, because on the whole, Americans have no idea how to drive on anything other than asphalt. They are not brought up with ordinary dirt and gravel roads. The Haul Road is an excellent - albeit unsurfaced - road. In Prudhoe Bay, at the Hotel where we ate, there were vehicles of all types. Oridnary family sedans up to the biggest motorhomes and all sizes in between. Sure you are bound to get a stone on your windscreen, and chips on your paint. But that is the norm, on any unsurfaced road.

    Lifey who is hooked on Ice Road Truckers

  10. #10

    Default

    My buddy and I are driving up to Alaska from Arizona, starting in a few weeks. We are going to take two months to drive there. I will be keeping an online blog. You may find it interesting to read. I don't have the blog up and running yet, but will post it on here when I do and it will. Feel free to keep in touch...

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