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Old 12-22-2012, 05:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Homemade wood flatbed?

Hello all! I'm a fairly new member, and this is my first thread. If I've gone and been an idiot by posting in the wrong section please be kind about telling me so.

Now, for my question: I've been looking to pick up a work truck and convert it to run on WVO (which will assuredly need its own thread for help once I get to that point. I promise to ask in the right forum for that one since it's pretty clear where I should post for that topic), anyway, I think I've found a good candidate. It's a 87' crew cab F350 chassis-cab with a 6.9 diesel w/banks turbo, which includes lots of useful accessories like a compressor and inverter that would come in handy for the tasks I'll be using the truck for.

One (maybe not so) little issue, it has no bed on it. I could go plunk down a grand or three for a used or refurbished bed, but I'm on a super tight budget and would also prefer to set this thing up specifically for my own needs, not to mention that would probably cost more than the whole truck I'm looking at. I'm thinking to build a flatbed for it out of lumber, unfortunately I have neither the knowledge or equipment to do any welding or other metalworking, so I'm basically limited to what I can do with drills, saws, and a few hundred bucks (preferably under $200-$300)

Does anyone have any experience/advice/pictures of a flatbed they've built or used made entirely out of lumber? Thank you all in advance. :-)
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Old 12-22-2012, 07:56 PM   #2 (permalink)
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For that year of truck you should be able to pick up an entire bed fairly easy for $2-300. Would last alot longer and be less of a hassle to maintain. The pain of hooking wiring, lights ect.
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Old 12-22-2012, 08:38 PM   #3 (permalink)
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For that year of truck you should be able to pick up an entire bed fairly easy for $2-300. Would last alot longer and be less of a hassle to maintain. The pain of hooking wiring, lights ect.
Unfortunately, because it's a cab-chassis and not a regular pickup frame the rails are flat and not the same length/width, meaning that it'd be great for a service bed since that's what that type of frame is designed for, but not for mounting a regular bed. Even if it was, the beds I've been finding online are going for $500-$1000+.

Besides, I enjoy the challenge of building my own, and would like it set up specifically for my needs. Not to mention that a wood deck would just look unique, and hopefully not like a hack-job if I take my time and do it right.

I do thank you for your input though. Figuring this stuff out by trial and error is a whole lot harder than getting things done with the guidance of those who've been there before me.
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Old 12-22-2012, 09:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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You could build an all wood bed but understand it wont last anywhere near as long or handle the load. I dont know where you live but if you are near an area that has timber mills you could economically pick up some rough oak lumber and build a pretty impressive bed with simple tools and lots of lag bolts. The weather would be your biggest enemy and you would have to treat it pretty frequently. Today, to build a metal framed flatbed would cost north of 1000 bucks in material.
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Old 12-22-2012, 11:04 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I just had a friend suggest bolting 4" angle iron down across the frame as the lateral supports along with 4"x4" pressure treated beams, then using 2"x6" or 2"x8" planks mounted longitudinally for the deck surface. He said that would help a lot with keeping the frame rigid compared to just wood beams. I think that should work for the size of loads I'd be carrying (probably no more than 2000-3000lbs in the bed at max), as the only reason I'm getting the 1ton is for the crew cab and the towing capacity. The weather is a mild concern as I do live in the rainy state of Oregon, but if I get 5-7 years out of it I think it'll be a worthwhile investment.

Once I get the project going I'll definitely be posting pics. Thanks all for the advice so far, and I'd love to hear other's experiences and ideas.
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Old 12-23-2012, 08:00 AM   #6 (permalink)
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In your case if you use oak it should practically last forever. That's what we used where treads/tracks rode on our 50' Lo Boy trailer at work. The problem was never weather deterioration, but we did have to replace the planks about every 5 years due to dozer tracks finally tearing them up. Without a welder you could still build an angle iron frame around the whole thing, taillight mounts, etc, and it would look pretty sharp.
Come to think of it, the 20' deck of my flatbed trailer in my Webshots is either pine or fir and it's still good as new. The trailer is about 6 years old but I slather it about every other year with Man O' War wood preservative that Walmart carries.
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Old 12-23-2012, 04:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Well I just checked lumber prices and the oak is way more expensive. I'd love it, but just can't afford it at this point. Guess I'll stick with pine and just slather it with some sort of oil periodically. Now the question is, should I stain the decking or stick with the natural wood color?
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Old 12-24-2012, 03:42 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Did you check mill prices? you'll find them way cheaper than retail finish lumber. If you do have to go with pine, use southern yellow pine, its cheaper heavier and tougher.
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Old 12-24-2012, 07:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I haven't checked mill prices, but I intend to once they open up after the holidays. Being in Oregon I should have at least a handful to choose from. It's gotta be cheaper going that route than home depot or something.

I looked into the angle iron for the crossbeams too. Every place with an online catalog (big-box stores) wants to charge an arm and a leg for the stuff, but there's a metal scrap place nearby that I'm hoping will be a lot cheaper. I can deal with a slight patina of rust a lot better than ridiculously high prices.

If I can get the angle iron cheap enough to do all the crossbeams full width with it then it should be strong enough that I may eventually consider building a custom basic camper designed just to fit my bed at some point. Nothing outrageous, but insulated sleeping for 3-4 and room for an icebox and a little storage/counter space for camp-style cooking. Maybe even a little wood stove in it for heat just cause I've always wanted a camper with a wood stove. They've got little tiny military ones designed for tents that would work perfect.
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Old 12-25-2012, 05:27 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Well I just checked lumber prices and the oak is way more expensive. I'd love it, but just can't afford it at this point. Guess I'll stick with pine and just slather it with some sort of oil periodically. Now the question is, should I stain the decking or stick with the natural wood color?
Yea, I should have added oak is really spendy. Personally I'd go with the natural wood color, if you Google Man O'War varnish, that's the stuff I used. The label showed it had about the most oil (linseed?) and UV protection of all the brands. It doesn't really stain the wood, but gives it a "richer" natural color compared to untreated that would look good on a pickup flat bed IMO.
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but there's a metal scrap place nearby that I'm hoping will be a lot cheaper. I can deal with a slight patina of rust a lot better than ridiculously high prices.
That's usually a good way to go, the price of new steel has been sky-high for years.
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Old 12-25-2012, 08:57 AM   #11 (permalink)
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For your angle iron, go find a second hand store that has a lot of old bed matress frames. I used to scrounge them when ever I saw them.
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Old 12-25-2012, 02:21 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Mattress frames eh? Would they really be strong enough for cross members on a flatbed frame?
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Old 12-25-2012, 02:38 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Mattress frames eh? Would they really be strong enough for cross members on a flatbed frame?
I used them to make a frame, then used diamond plate across the middle, with steel casters on the corners, and one in the center, to make an engine cradle. I had to rebuild a GM 454 in a '72 Winnebago. Engine had to come out the bottom and then be rolled out from under the front. What an experience that was on my driveway. Front axle had to be 28" off the ground for clearance.

I have also used two pieces turned over on itself, welded together and drilled for a homemade plate to lift an engine. That stuff is pretty strong.
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Old 12-25-2012, 02:45 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Good to know. Assuming they're long enough to go as wide as the back tires on a dually chassis cab I might very well go that route. Thanks for the suggestion.
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Old 12-25-2012, 04:18 PM   #15 (permalink)
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IIRC Cal king has 7' side rails.


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