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Hindsight is Foresight - Hauler Bed Builds


bmzero

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So, I'm about to start building the bed on my 730. I am curious if anyone here would like to share how they would have changed their bed setup if they knew then what they know now - sort of a list of "what I should have done was...".

 

My current plans are:

  • Build the platform for a Smart car, taking into account the wider stance of the newer models
  • Also will be built to handle a Polaris RZR XP pulled on from the rear (longer wheelbase than Smart car)
  • Load with ramps from passenger side
  • Maintain 11' from BOC to center of hitch pin based on Henry's drawings (thanks for sharing Henry)
  • Keep the behind-the-axle approach angle a little higher than most. We spend a decent amount of time off road recreating. I'm concerned that the length behind the axle could cause clearance problems in uneven terrain.
  • Probably build the bed out of steel, but seriously considering aluminum. In this case, the weight savings might hurt the ride quality, though.
  • 2.5" bumper receiver tube
  • Air-ride 5th wheel hitch with gooseneck ball receiver on same platform
  • Line-X the top bed surface
  • Storage with automatic lights when doors are open
  • Maintain dual exhaust stacks (the kid in me just really likes how it looks as-is)
  • Custom drom between stacks
  • Keep "wings" on back of cab
  • Truck is sitting at 230" wheelbase now
  • I'll be working directly with KC HiLITES on the lighting. So the sky is the limit there. We'll be doing some cool things with LED's.

Here's what the RZR looked like in one of my previous F450's for reference. It's a little longer and wider than the Smart.

5491751968_eeb6508677_b.jpg

 

What am I overlooking?

 

I will be doing the fabrication myself.

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BMzero,

 

I was hoping to link a thread on this very subject which was discussed couple of years ago but couldn't find it. Regardless, always a good discussion to re-visit since multiple new additions to the forum. My bed was built by JW Morgan who no longer builds but most will agree did some really innovative things with some of the beds he built. Things I considered important were 1. Access panels in the centerline of my bed to get to suspension and electrical items. 2. Under bed mounting of winch. 3. Adequate tie downs for Smart. 4. Large piece of conduit down bed rails for light and trailer wires. 5. Functional but classy.

What I would change four years later. 1. Larger Drom Box. 2. Ramp storage IN not ON bed. 3. Top of bed storage boxes which don't leak (latches on mine are marine but still leak). 4. Add on wheel chocks for vehicles ( I added mine later). I am like you, I have a single stack and I like it. What I would change in no way demeans the quality of my bed build by JW and if he was still building he would be my first choice. Just needs change over time and in my experience these trucks are never a finished product just a work in progress.

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Will the RZR be on board while pulling?

Forget the aluminum, not worth the hassle and you need the weight of the steel bed back there.

As Carl says, access panels.

2999888920096176628qeklIf_fs.jpg

 

See that panel in front of the ET?

2827672310096176628EdKQxm_fs.jpg

 

Came real handy when servicing the ET and replacing worn panhard rod. The pipe was needed to "break" the nut on the rod, just impact was not gonna do it.

See the panel in front of the tire.

2188361930096176628tRejSa_fs.jpg

 

That panhard was not gonna come out without access gained by removing it.

2440687450096176628UtnyHb_fs.jpg

 

The two weatherproof outlets in the back of the ET, 110VAC from umbilical and from on-board diesel generator.

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Thanks for the feedback.

 

Henry, the RZR will not be on the truck when pulling the 5er. I don't think I would have enough length for that. It would only be on the bed for short day trips.

 

I am also planning on building a pull out drawer to house a Champion 3100 inverter generator that would be used for trips w/o the trailer.

 

I am a little concerned about access panels. One of the things most attractive about these trucks was their durability, but I also know that when/if something breaks, it will be much harder to get to with the bed on the truck. I want to make the access easy so maintenance and inspection tasks won't be a pain in the butt.

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That makes sense, otherwise 11' length would not be sufficient.

Access panels are very useful, yes, the trucks are very durable but they were designed with a thought the many things are only accessible (reasonably) from an open frame and from the top. Lifting the whole bed to get to things is a real PITA. I have four access panels in my bed, one big enough to get under the truck from the top. There is one other "obscure" item often overlooked.

brett%2520truck%2520assy%2520jpeg%25201.

 

See the two cut in areas in the front of Jeff Brett's bed?

DSC_0213.JPG

 

Their primary purpose is to provide access to tanks while fueling. If you look carefully they are not the same size, one is deeper by several inches. The deeper one is the one where the fuel gauge sender is mounted (the other tank has just a dummy cover). That sender is over a foot long, if you cover it with bed it ain't coming out, one of my clients had to replace it and was happy with the access.

My bed covers it completely because of the drom

2781515020096176628MhEZPT_fs.jpg

 

so I cut out small removable panel in the deck to have access to it. Here's the deck before drom install,

2813976370096176628bWFtrm_fs.jpg

 

you can see couple of the access panels, one in the center, one on the edge for access to the stairs,

2188939810096176628omjfCF_fs.jpg

 

I am able to install and remove these through that panel and they are big.

2684717030096176628rgOzSa_ph.jpg

 

The fourth panel is in front of the ET and I hinged it for "really easy access".

2874963840096176628Xvtifm_fs.jpg

 

Bed before mounting,

2278362180096176628BBIXVr_fs.jpg

 

and finished product.

2937082320096176628qjPAHX_fs.jpg

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Thanks for the feedback.

 

Henry, the RZR will not be on the truck when pulling the 5er. I don't think I would have enough length for that. It would only be on the bed for short day trips.

 

I am also planning on building a pull out drawer to house a Champion 3100 inverter generator that would be used for trips w/o the trailer.

 

I am a little concerned about access panels. One of the things most attractive about these trucks was their durability, but I also know that when/if something breaks, it will be much harder to get to with the bed on the truck. I want to make the access easy so maintenance and inspection tasks won't be a pain in the butt.

 

bmzero,

 

I just want to let you know that I put a rzr on the deck of my truck side ways. I drive the rzr up the ramps and tight down to the deck. My next plan is to put a Smart car on the deck when I don't have my rzr with me. I know that I will have to add a winch to the truck to pull the Smart up the ramps. Part of my plan is to store the ramps under the area where the hitch is. That means I will pull the ramps out from the back of the truck. My ramps for the rzr are 8' long and fold in half.

 

I hope this helps,

Al

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Stick with the steel. The extra weight helps the ride, especially when bobtail. Pulling you will not notice. Personally I used 1/2 plate which is way overkill but I stayed tandem and even bobtail I get a good ride. My bed added 7k#. Lots of steel.

 

Storage. You can never have too much. When I built the truck did not even use 1/2 of the storage I built in. Now 5 years later, once a year I have to go thru the storage and really make some hard choices on what needs to be taken out to make room for that something new I have just got that I now can not seem to be able to live without. Also if you purchase boxes to hang, blow the back of the box out and extend it so that it goes all the way to the frame. I know you have the skill. Otherwise it is just wasted space.

 

On the bed size, once you figure out how much space you need, add another foot. At the very least I would design the bed to be able to carry the razor and pull the trailer too. Over time things/needs change. What works today may not in a few years. One of the best things about a HDT is you can bring all your toys too if you want too. In my case after 4 years with the old Jeep we got a new one this spring. The new one is a few inches longer. While I am able to make it work an extra foot would have made it a moot point and the extra foot would have been nothing at the time of the conversion. Things change over time, even the new Smart cars have recently changed.

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Excellent points above..especially Henry's on Access Panels.. I had several on my bed and did need to use them..

Second, forget the shiny stuff...a real pain in the butt to keep clean......I spent way more time keeping mine shiny than I preferred to.

First picture here shows TWO large access panels on the top..hinged and easily opened...there also is a hinged panel under the hitch (where license plate is mounted) that is a nice large storage area.. I used it for heavy stuff, like chains and jacks... I also had my electrical hook ups inside this area..

Good luck,

Cheers,

Bob

410426355.jpg

403701580.jpg

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bmzero,

 

I just want to let you know that I put a rzr on the deck of my truck side ways. I drive the rzr up the ramps and tight down to the deck. My next plan is to put a Smart car on the deck when I don't have my rzr with me. I know that I will have to add a winch to the truck to pull the Smart up the ramps. Part of my plan is to store the ramps under the area where the hitch is. That means I will pull the ramps out from the back of the truck. My ramps for the rzr are 8' long and fold in half.

 

I hope this helps,

Al

 

Al, the RZR 800 will fit sideways on the deck as it's 103" long. However, our RZR XP 1000's are 119" long. Technically, I could probably get it on there sideways, but I would stick out like a sore thumb driving down the road. I really wish I could do it that way, though. Unfortunately, this thing will have to ride lengthwise.

 

Here's the current XP 1000:

13982177237_fc03bfff81_b.jpg

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Going along with the "storage" theme.....how about "liquid" storage tanks? Waste water (grey) and fresh water tanks

can easily be included if planned for from the beginning. I seem to remember from some of your earlier posts you may like to get off the "beaten" path from time to time. This may come into play for some of your future adventures. As already mentioned what storage you do built in will fill up fast. Some folks have extended their air lines to the rear for future use. Conduits for running wire and other lines are always helpful. Lots of tire clearance for tire changing and chains if needed. Remember to "dump" your suspension to get to the lowest point for tire clearance. Tire clearance should be calculated using "new" tire circumference. As mentioned fuel tank access is very important....fuel level sensor is a very "weak" item and seems to fail only after you install the bed. What about service access to the rear of the cab for servicing the airbags and leveling valve? Lots of service areas can be accessed from under the bed if so inclined. Also some have added excellent steps and ladders to access the bed. Make it easy especially when you have a "toy(s)" loaded on the bed.

 

Just some rambling.....

 

Scott

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Al, the RZR 800 will fit sideways on the deck as it's 103" long. However, our RZR XP 1000's are 119" long. Technically, I could probably get it on there sideways, but I would stick out like a sore thumb driving down the road. I really wish I could do it that way, though. Unfortunately, this thing will have to ride lengthwise.

 

Here's the current XP 1000:

13982177237_fc03bfff81_b.jpg

 

Nice looking machine. I should have said that my rzr was an 800. Where I ride trails the 1000 would not fit. I like how you have your machine is set-up.

 

Good luck with your build. Hope to see you in Tenn. in April. Time to go out and plow snow. Need to get ready for 5" to 8" for Saturday.

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Going along with the "storage" theme.....how about "liquid" storage tanks? Waste water (grey) and fresh water tanks

can easily be included if planned for from the beginning. I seem to remember from some of your earlier posts you may like to get off the "beaten" path from time to time. This may come into play for some of your future adventures. As already mentioned what storage you do built in will fill up fast. Some folks have extended their air lines to the rear for future use. Conduits for running wire and other lines are always helpful. Lots of tire clearance for tire changing and chains if needed. Remember to "dump" your suspension to get to the lowest point for tire clearance. Tire clearance should be calculated using "new" tire circumference. As mentioned fuel tank access is very important....fuel level sensor is a very "weak" item and seems to fail only after you install the bed. What about service access to the rear of the cab for servicing the airbags and leveling valve? Lots of service areas can be accessed from under the bed if so inclined. Also some have added excellent steps and ladders to access the bed. Make it easy especially when you have a "toy(s)" loaded on the bed.

 

Just some rambling.....

 

Scott

 

Scott, I like your recommendation of the liquid tanks. I have stayed in the desert for a few weeks at a time. Luckily, we had a service truck come through as there were quite a few rigs with us, but I was sweating it for while. Having tanks on the truck would be great for running into town to a dump station and water fill. I'm going to try to include that idea. Thanks.

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Nice looking machine. I should have said that my rzr was an 800. Where I ride trails the 1000 would not fit. I like how you have your machine is set-up.

 

Good luck with your build. Hope to see you in Tenn. in April. Time to go out and plow snow. Need to get ready for 5" to 8" for Saturday.

 

Thanks, Al. We're planning on going to the Rally in TN.

 

By the way, TN is getting a good bit of sleet and ice today, too.

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Access panels are nice. I don't have any, and you can pretty much get to everything from under - but it can be a pain. So adding some may be wise.

 

As said, don't waste any space.

 

My top boxes do NOT have any latches or hardware on them. On purpose. Something to consider......it makes access far easier,especially in an emergency. I've never had anything stolen in 13 year with this configuration - but we are fulltimers so are not likely to be in "bad"places.

 

I agree with making the bed longer than needed now, within reason. But you do have to draw the line someplace. I like the built in ladders like Gregg does. They do not 'steal" too much room. Take a look at the pictures of my bed for the minimum cutouts for fuel on a 780/730.They cannot realistically be smaller.

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Any reason you couldn't park that RZR sideways on a angle? Haven't done any math...but that type of vehicle would be real easy to incline at 30 degrees or so to shorten it up! Lets say 30 deg ramp...that slides down rollers right to the ground for onloading.... ^_^

 

Jeff, you may be onto something there. I had not thought about that for the RZR, but it's definitely possible.

 

Here's a photo I scooped off of Google.

adam5187-albums-rzr4-ramp-picture9586-ip

 

Mine would be a little shorter than that one.

 

Building a platform for the front tires to roll onto and winching just the front end up to the ride angle would also be a piece of cake. That would save on space required for ramps. I might could even winch it up enough to open the drom box doors slightly. As long as the vehicle had time to settle and let the oil relocate after it was unloaded, I don't see any reason it couldn't get very close to vertical. They're EFI, so no carb floats to worry about. We run purpose built fuel systems, too. No worries about fuel leaking at that angle either.

 

That just might work!

 

I had planned on building the rear edge of the bed so that I could secure the same ramps used for the Smart on the rear for length-wise loading. After I got the RZR rolled onto the bed, I could then hook up the tire baskets/support brace for the front tires and winch it up into it's angled ride position. Most of the weight would still be supported by the rear tires. I could build in secure mounting cradles on which the front tires could ride.

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I carry a Subaru at an angle, loaded length wise and park a RZR 800 under the front of the car cross ways. I use a single 8' ramp that is about that steep and simply drive the RZR up it. For the car at an angle I have 4 small pockets that the tires settle into. Just high enough that the vehicle will not roll off in neutral but needs a little power. The sides are built up so the tires can't slide sideways.

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Ah, eagle eye! Something I designed but never "got-around-to". Dual purpose platform.

 

In flat position it would work like yours, under the fifth wheel carrying space.

 

2368306290096176628vcvHxJ_ph.jpg

 

2372532750096176628gKhWSi_ph.jpg

 

But it could also be disassembled and set up vertically,

 

2901455200096176628LmmywM_ph.jpg

 

and utilized as an "ET field service bench"

 

2780008470096176628rnZHub_ph.jpg

 

Since then I "reassessed" the need for the contraption based on the "real world" experience of doing the ET field service and installation.

 

DSC_0108.JPG

 

Strategically placed saw horses are often all that is required.

 

2607307940096176628TObYlg_ph.jpg

 

Incidentally, that hoist (and it's design)

2267997880096176628MGBsTW_ph.jpg

 

was an offshoot of a thought whether we could design a way to pickup a Smart and "deposit it" into a garage, but practicality intruded into this wild ass idea. But not all was lost, it makes a great ET service hoist and motorcycle pickup hoist.

2155045580096176628hxkJAo_fs.jpg

 

2306875020096176628WVZQtW_fs.jpg

 

This client actually carries two motorcycles in the garage, the one you see is picked up first set on the floor and rolled into the corner (wife's bike) and then his Harley goes straight in.

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I am also planning on building a pull out drawer to house a Champion 3100 inverter generator that would be used for trips w/o the trailer.

 

 

 

I'm thinking of buying the Champion 3100 also. Do you like yours?

Yes, I really like mine, but get an extended warranty if you can. I have used my warranty twice. I got mine from Camping World.

 

I have powered a 13.5k BTU roof air with it quite a bit. When it works, I'm very happy with it.

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