Driving the F-450 empty was comfortable, as long as the road was smooth and the lanes wide. It has 11,000-lb. of rear spring capacity and rides on 19.5-inch wheels with 12-ply steel belted tires aired up at 80-psi. Hit a bump unloaded and you feel the shockwave from the rear leaf springs in your eyeballs. Taming the F-450's ride requires pushing the truck past the limits of most full-size pickups. If you want to be rewarded with a smooth ride you need to work the F-450 hard.
I called ahead to the plant nursery to setup a time to receive the soil. These guys know dirt. They also know what it takes to move dirt, and they assume you do too if you're asking for a few cubic-yards. I had some fun though asking how they wanted to load up my Prius. There was 5 seconds of silence while the professional gardener figured how to politely tell me a Prius wasn't going to work. Not even if they carved out a space for me to drive the car and filled most of the rest of it with earth, though that might improve its aerodynamics by giving it a lower profile.
I’m not making this up. When we arrived at the nursery there was a half-ton pickup getting ready to head out. Its owner looked shell shocked as he cleaned a foot-high pile of dirt from the roof of his extended cab. He was standing on a gigantic mound of raw soil in the cargo box, which was sagging noticeably over the rear wheels. See, there are two kinds of truck owner. Those who estimate cargo capacity by volume – as in, I can fill my pickup’s cargo box with whatever can fit in its dimensions, like furniture, dirt, or matter from a neutron star. And those who logically fill cargo capacity based on a truck's rated hauling capability – as in, I'm not driving home riding on the bump stops.
That doesn't mean you won’t overload a truck. Almost all pickups are engineered to handle an overload situation, but only for a few moments, like when a cubic-yard of earth is being dumped in the back of the truck from a skip loader. And the guy at the nursery is the last person you should depend on to tell you if your truck can handle a load. He just wants to sell you dirt.
We took care of the donation paperwork first, out of sight from the F-450. So ready or not we were committed to receiving about 2.5-tons of soil, or the equivalent of 1.6-Priuses. When we arrived at the truck the skip loader operator, who was basically the Yoda of dirt, knowingly approved our choice of hauler for the task. "Good for hauling earth the F-450 is," I swore I heard him murmur.
Almost before I was able to get the camera ready, the gardener was belted in the loader dumping soil from a height of about 5-feet over the bed. The dirt tumbled out like a waterfall into the cargo box. It was amazing to watch as the F-450 received it all in about 6-seconds with barely a shudder, sound or sag. 2,250-lb. down, 2,250-lb. to go.
The second load was dumped just like the first. By the time it was done we had a pyramid of dirt in the back of the F-450 but the rear suspension squatted only about 2 or 3-inches, almost unnoticeably.
We leveled the pile so it was even, just below the bottoms of the cargo rails. Turns out we didn't need any more soil because the CWC had overloaded their half-ton the day before hauling one cubic-yard back to the future garden.
The last step was sprinkling several gallons of water over the dirt before covering it with a tarp, to prevent leaving a bread crumb trail of soil and amendment on the freeway.