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DIY Flatbed #2

Source:
Mark Usnick
usnick@arn.net


Mark Usnick outdoes himself in his second Flatbed Article. Featured is a larger more capable flatbed that he built to his specific needs. Mark takes you into the design stage and then shows you how it is done.

Click on any Photo to see a Larger Version.

I originally purchased a F-350 single rear wheel pickup truck that I converted to a flatbed. Some of you may have seen it here featured on Ford-Diesel.com in the DIY Flatbed Article. Over the last few years, I found that I needed a more capable truck. To address this concern I purchased a F350 cab and chassis body for its heavier springs and higher GVWR than a Dual Rear Wheel pickup. The Cab and Chassis trucks do not come equipped with a bed but instead have straight frame rails that are made to accept an aftermarket bed/body.

In addition to wanting a bigger truck for our normal hauling and towing needs, an important goal for this project was to be able to carry our Willys Jeep on the truck while towing our travel trailer. Otherwise, we would have to choose between the two to tow behind the truck. So, we planned to build a substantial flatbed that could accommodate the two possessions at one time.

Before I purchased the truck, I started to prepare for its arrival. I downloaded part of the Body Builders Guide from Ford, which had a ton of specs and drawings on the entire truck line. With this info, I was able to figure out exactly how much truck I needed. I even overlaid a scaled picture of the Willys onto the body builder’s image of the Truck. All of this allowed me to design most of the bed without having ever seen a truck like the one I planned to order. Additionally, it allowed me to determine if a F350 with a 60" cab to axle would be long enough to accommodate the Willys. The body builders picture suggested that it would be a tight fit, but that it would work without having to greatly extend the bed or move up to an 84" cab to axle truck.

Here is the new truck the day we brought it home.

With all the prep work done, I was comfortable starting the project right away.

The first pieces of the flatbed come together. The main frame rails are heavy 3" channel. Cross members are 2” x 3" rectangular tubing. The only issue here was to make darn sure everything was good and square. Some people may be tempted to square everything up with a large T square. While tempting and simple, it is just not going to work. Instead, a more accurate method of measuring the diagonals or using the 3,4,5 right triangle method is recommended. Furthermore, insure the cross-members are spaced in such a way to allow room for a built in gooseneck plate directly above the rear axle.

I then bolted on brackets to support a set of old camper jacks...

The jacks allow the bed to be easily installed and removed from the truck.


Adding braces between the cross members, and to the top of the main frame rails. The three-inch channel that is laying face down between the cross-members was specifically placed to give extra support for carrying the Willys. The braces were designed and spaced to sit directly under its tires.


The cross members were placed on 12" centers. They are 2" wide. This design provided a convenient 10" space between the cross members.

I picked up a piece of 10" channel iron from the scrap lot to use as a gooseneck plate. Since the 10" channel iron is only 1/4" thick, I welded a piece of 1/4" plate to the bottom for additional reinforcement.

This is the gooseneck plate after being welded onto the frame.

I decided it would be easiest to buy a 12" receiver tube, then fabricate the hitch support around it.


I then attached the hitch to bed frame...

Triangulating braces were then welded into place.


The frame was primed to protect it from the elements. I was in a race to finish enough of the bed to allow us to tow our trailer to the mountains at Spring Break. The bed is far from being done, but it does have a functioning trailer hitch!



The first tow trip was great!



After returning from the trip, work resumed on the bed.

I then added more braces to the rear of the bed and trimmed out the rear panel. This panel will hold the backup lights and license plate. To accommodate the brake lights, small plates were attached to the last cross member near each corner. (Shown in Photo Right.) I re-evaluated the placement of these plates, after the photo was taken, electing to move them slightly towards the rear to increase visibility.


Adding more braces to the front of the bed.

Then more braces to the gooseneck plate.


A couple weeks later, the deck is done!

Most of the time was spent painting the frame. Painting under the bed after it is built is a huge pain in the neck, so I painted as much as possible before putting the floor plate in place.

The deck is made of two pieces of 4x10' by 1/8" floor plate and is trimmed with 4" x 1/4" angle iron.

Starting work on the headache rack.

The headache rack is made of 2x4" x 3/16" rectangular tubing and
1 1/8 schedule 40 tubing.

The headache rack is finished with the addition of floor plate to the bottom half.

I had some scrap 11 ga. floor plate. It was perfect for this application.

The Flatbed is painted up, ready for lights and final installation!


Just about done!

We still need to paint the bottom portion of the trailer hitch.

Here is a photo from the rear...


After building a set of ramps, we are ready to try to load the Willys on the truck for the first time.

The ramps are built of 3" x 1/4" angle iron (runners) and 2" x 1/8" cross braces. They are darn heavy!



Half way up the ramp. I used the 12V winch on the front of the Willys to pull it onto the truck.

Made it!

The Willys fits snugly against the headache rack and is held in place by the winch cable. I also secure the rear of the Willys with a load binder for safety. This will hold the Jeep in place if we were to get in a wreck.


Done!

The Willys rides very well on the truck. The truck drops only 2" with it on board. The truck has a 12500 GVWR, and is still 1500 pounds under the GVWR.



7300 lb.
Dry Truck Weight
1200 lb.
Flatbed
2500 lb.
Willys Jeep

11000 lb.
Total


Furthermore, the new bed is wide enough to carry two round bales of grass. We have hauled two and towed four behind with no trouble. Makes stocking up for Winter an easier task.


MATERIALS LIST:
DECK:
(4) 20 ft 3" channel iron (main frame members and braces between cross members)
(4) 20 ft 2"x3" rectangular tubing (frame cross members)
(2) 20 ft 4" angle iron (outside edge)
(1) 3 ft 10" channel iron (gooseneck plate)
(2) 4 ft x10 ft 1/8" floor plate (decking)
HITCH/BUMPER:
(1) 10 ft 4" channel iron
(1) 10 ft 4" flat
(1) 12" x 2" receiver tube.
(2) Large U bolts I got off the scrap pile at a suspension/spring shop for tow hooks.
(1) Scrap 11 ga. floor plate.
HEADACHE RACK:
(1) 10 ft 4" rectangular tubing. (uprights)
(1) 10 ft 3" rectangular tubing. (top and bottom cross bars)
(1) 10 ft 2" square tubing. (small uprights in window area)
(1) 20 ft 1.5" schedule 40 tubing. (cross bars)
(1) 2 ft x 8 ft 11 ga. floor plate.
MISC:

I used some scrap 1/4" and 3/16" steel plate for braces on headache rack, taillight brackets, reinforcement for gooseneck plate and braces for trailer hitch.

Tail lights were cheap Wal-Mart specials (one pair of lights per side).

Backup lights (Wal-Mart flood lights) are wired to switch in cab so that I can run the lights with the truck idling in neutral.

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