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Building A Flat Bed


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#1 toomanytoys84 OFFLINE  

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Posted November 26, 2013 - 03:36 PM

I have a 2004 Dodge Ram 1500 quad cab with bed side cancer.  Poor thing is all ate up.

 

I have decided to just build a flat bad for it.  The truck has many miles on it, runs well, but is not worth spending the cash on body work and paint.

 

Anyone done this?  I know the frame rails aren't flat. 

 

How long would I expect it to last?  How hard would it be to build?

 

Any idea on how big of pieces to use?

I was thinking the main support be 4x4 posts.  Using 2x6 to box it in.  Not sure what size to use for the cross members? 


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#2 LilysDad ONLINE  

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Posted November 26, 2013 - 04:02 PM

What would it cost to buy the metal frame of a flat bed from the scrap yard?


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#3 Ryan313 OFFLINE  

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Posted November 26, 2013 - 04:58 PM

I have an f450 that I will be building a bed for soon, I hope. I will be building it out of steel, and the guy who is going to help me said that it will cost about $500 to $600 for the steel. He has also built several flatbeds, so he knows what he is doing, that's why he is helping me. He told me that he made one for an f450 once and to build a flatbed with a head rack took him 12 hours. Obviously it would go faster with 2 of us, but one thing to consider is that we are both certified welders. Being that mine will be steel, I don't know how much it would have in common, but I thought I would share anyway.
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#4 JD DANNELS OFFLINE  

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Posted November 26, 2013 - 05:03 PM

That is something I have considered a lot!!  Standard pickup beds are a pain to load anything over the side unless your pretty tall.

There is a lot of different ways to do it as a google search will show. Have you done any looking in salvage yards in your area?

Sometimes it is possible to buy a metal bed for less than you can build.  As I was getting off the Interstate this morning I pulled up behind an S10 with wat looked to be a just completed treated wood flatbed.

 

However you go be sure to provide plenty of places to tie down your cargo. That is the biggest consideration with a flatbed.


Edited by JD DANNELS, November 26, 2013 - 05:04 PM.

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#5 boyscout862 OFFLINE  

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Posted November 26, 2013 - 05:03 PM


It is not difficut. I've seen many ways to do a flatbed. You have to look at what the vatious materials will cost and what you plan to do with the truck. I have seen many made of rough cut lumber. I'm planning to replace my rotted bed with an E-Z Dumper with some fixed fenders. Take the bed off and then check the frame carefully. Most times the frame will need work too. Good Luck, Rick
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#6 JD DANNELS OFFLINE  

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Posted November 26, 2013 - 05:07 PM

It is not difficut. I've seen many ways to do a flatbed. You have to look at what the vatious materials will cost and what you plan to do with the truck. I have seen many made of rough cut lumber. I'm planning to replace my rotted bed with an E-Z Dumper with some fixed fenders. Take the bed off and then check the frame carefully. Most times the frame will need work too. Good Luck, Rick

Rick makes a good point. Also check the brake lines while your in there. It would be a lot easier to replace rusty ones with the bed offf.


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#7 Ryan313 OFFLINE  

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Posted November 26, 2013 - 05:18 PM

Rick makes a good point. Also check the brake lines while your in there. It would be a lot easier to replace rusty ones with the bed offf.


I would take it a step farther and clean the entire rear part of the frame, then paint it black. Remember that with a flatbed much more of the undercarriage and frame will be exposed then with a pickup bed, so painting the frame will make it look much better.
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#8 glgrumpy OFFLINE  

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Posted November 26, 2013 - 05:44 PM

Have built beds on bigger trucks and trailers.   You will need to block up frame front and back till it is level with the top of your axle hump. Good 4x4's work. I then use channel iron on edge for main rails. I've used 5 and 6", but small truck could use 4" OK. Use same channel for a square frame for the outsides of the bed to set on the main rails, starting in front and back.  I then use smaller channel to crosspeices. One about every two feet. You have to notch the channel cross peices to set INTO and even with the outer channels at bottom. I get a size that allows for 5/4" lumber to slip under the top of edge of channel all around and on ends. Sometimes you need to cut some board layers off to fit under the lip and still be same height on the bed surface. Brace and gusset some or all of the crossover channels to the main channels at bottom. run a couple pipes or channels across those two main frame channels to hold together some before putting on the cross beams.  Use large U-bolts like used for rear-ends in big trucks to go over the main channels and 4x4's and over frame rails on both sides. Use strap at bottom under frame rail, About 4 to 6 U-bolts. I used tongue and groove deck boards on mine. The wood dries and seperates some, no matter what you do to it, and the tongue and groove keeps at least some of the seam cracks closed up over time. Else, sand, dirt and other small items fall thru the cracks when hauling stuff. I like the special deck screws and driver that trailer places sell to mount top lumber. You will need the special size/type bit that goes with the size screw you buy. Drills right into wood and down into the metal crosspeices. Then screw drives in with drill and threads into hole in metal and tightens. They work great. I have bolted with carriage bolts too, but takes a lot of them and gets costly.  For the sides, I made standard 2 x 's that I could pull off if I wanted and welded on t he stake pockets on sides for that, and even ran a fairly thick flat stock down those sides outside the stake pockets for a place to use tie-down straps and ropes. Also good idea to make a head-ache rack for front. I used 2x2 tubes and made high enough to be above the rear window or cab even but cut-out area to see thru using the rear-veiw mirror inside. I like to see what is on bed and be able to back up while looking instead of so much reliance on door mirrors.  Never used wood for framing and saw too many made that way that didn't last and broke up in few years. 

 

  Another way is to just shop around and at junkyards for a used bed. Might be cheapest. Still would need the wood spacers on top of frame to clear bump.  Keep in mind that with all the frame under it and spacers that it is still fairly high to lift up to.


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#9 Utah Smitty OFFLINE  

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Posted November 26, 2013 - 06:43 PM

I used to sell truck equipment, including flatbeds. We even made up some custom built ones.  You can build a decent bed using 3" channel for cross members, and 3 or 4 inch channel for the longitudinals.  If your steel supplier has a press brake... have them shear two pieces of steel, and make sure that the sides parallel each other, and that the front and rear parallel each other. Then have the steel formed with two bends along one side of each piece of steel.

 

The first bend would be wide enough to slip the ends of your crossmembers into it. Leave about 1/8" extra room for tolerance, etc. The second bend comes back towards the opposite side of the sheet--forming a long, square-edged "J" along the long side of the sheet.  You'll want it to be at least 1", and more if possible.

 

Layout the steel with the bent edges on the outside and the unbent edges facing each other. Leave a slight tapered gap to allow for welding, then weld the two pieces together.

 

Slip your crossmembers in and stitch weld them in.  Make sure you don't weld any X-members directly above your tires so you'll have room for wheel up and down travel. You may also want to face the open side of channels to the rear of the bed to help reduce the amount of dirt, snow, etc. that accumulates there from the  tires.

 

For stake pockets, you can use cut sections of 4" channel welded vertically along the edge of the bed, then run a length of 1/4" strap steel on the outside of the pockets for a tie down rail, and to protect the pockets.

 

Tack your longitudinal channels on to the X-members at the correct frame spacing. Make some triangular gussets that go between the two pieces to strengthen the bed.

 

You can make a headboard using the same technique, but run the side length 8 inches or so below the platform level, then weld a triangular gusset on it under the bed to strengthen it.

 

I realize my description may be confusing--I had a drawing I made up to show how to do it--I'll try and find it and post it.

 

Regards,

 

Smitty


Edited by Utah Smitty, November 26, 2013 - 06:45 PM.

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#10 JD DANNELS OFFLINE  

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Posted November 26, 2013 - 10:35 PM

You notice everyone is saying use channel?? It would be tempting to use square or rectangular tubing.
AndI have heard of it being done. But if moisture gets in the tube and it will it will rust from the inside out and not last nearly as long as open channel.

#11 toomanytoys84 OFFLINE  

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Posted November 27, 2013 - 07:58 AM

I was planning on using wood, not steel. 

 

Been looking at some plans.  I have a friend that owns a steel yard so I could get some killer deals on steel, and I have a welder.  I'd just need to buy a chop saw to cut it with.  I have torches but I'd want clean cuts



#12 boyscout862 OFFLINE  

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Posted November 27, 2013 - 09:14 AM

Any project that requires a new tool is a bonus. If the tool pays for itself in the first project you will be way ahead. I bought a used metal cutting bandsaw a year ago from CL for only $75 and it works good. Good Luck, Rick



#13 JD DANNELS OFFLINE  

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Posted November 27, 2013 - 10:06 AM

Any project that requires a new tool is a bonus. If the tool pays for itself in the first project you will be way ahead. I bought a used metal cutting bandsaw a year ago from CL for only $75 and it works good. Good Luck, Rick

That is a good point. I have a Chop Saw and while it works and is fast. It is a loud Spark throwing firebreathing dragon and overall a very messy tool to work with and all cuts are burned.  A metal cutting bandsaw while it take up a little more space is a much quieter more pleasant machine that gives a much cleaner cut(no nasty blued steel burs needing ground off). In case you have not guessed I would replace the chop saw with a bandsaw in a heartbeat!!


Edited by JD DANNELS, November 27, 2013 - 10:09 AM.

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#14 boyscout862 OFFLINE  

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Posted November 27, 2013 - 10:25 AM

That is a good point. I have a Chop Saw and while it works and is fast. It is a loud Spark throwing firebreathing dragon and overall a very messy tool to work with and all cuts are burned.  A metal cutting bandsaw while it take up a little more space is a much quieter more pleasant machine that gives a much cleaner cut(no nasty blued steel burs needing ground off). In case you have not guessed I would replace the chop saw with a bandsaw in a heartbeat!!

I see a couple per year on CL in my area. I didn't go to his place to buy the bandsaw. He sold me a 30 ton press for $100 and happened to mention the saw. I also got some interesting things from his scrap pile. Keep looking. Good Luck, rick



#15 TAHOE ONLINE  

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Posted November 27, 2013 - 10:25 AM

I like many of the wooden beds, but I would try to get pricing of all the wood and your steel then go from there.

I've also seen some decent steel beds on CL that have went for $3-400 in good condition, that would be worth the material and all the hours of fabbing for me.






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