Final result

White Elephant?

By admin, January 31, 2017

The early weeks of 2017 I wrapped up a drawn out project to upgrade my truck to an aluminum flat bed.

I’ve always felt the modern pickup truck is a fairly useless device for real work. Even before I bought my current truck, I had plans to swap the pickup bed for an aluminum flat bed. When I stumbled upon a used Aluma bed of the exact make and model I had considered, for 1/4 the new price, I knew it was a sign and immediately brought it home!

I’m sure my Toyota 1 ton, which has faithfully served the world for almost 30 years, was a bit indignant being asked to bring home parts for its replacement. Sorry, ‘yota.

New truck bed on old truck

New bed on old truck

After repairing a few areas of the bed damaged by the previous owner, I pulled off the original pickup bed. They don’t weigh much, so other than the deranged mounting bolt arrangement, it’s pretty quick.

Removing old bed

Removing the old bed using one of my tractors

These beds fit a wide range of years, so it’s not hard to sell them here in the snow belt! A neighbor bought the bed within a couple days, covering the cost of the entire upgrade project.

After some head scratching, I came up with a pretty clever way to mount to the frame, which is not flat (neither through design nor manufacturing tolerance!). I then made a few “design improvements”, adding hidden hook points at the front, a rail across the rear for tie-downs, improved fenders, and proper access for the spare tire crank.

Final result

Final result

Achieving a workable fuel filler with a flatbed is always a problem. The previous owner had gone through the bed floor, which was just stupid if you are going to haul things! The best is probably to put the filler up on the side of the bulkhead, but I couldn’t work that mod into this design. I therefore opted to cut out the side rail and put the filler there—even expensive Eby beds do that. Turned out pretty nice, and with a little care I can run a gas pump wide open.

Fuel filler

Fuel filler

As a final touch, I added some very bright LED flood lights, tucked below the cab roof, yet still high enough to be useful. All the rear lighting of the truck is now LED, which should help get the attention of tailgaters.

LED work lights

LED work lights

I’m quite happy with the results, and feel it’s a much more useful tool that it was last year this time. In the future I will add a gooseneck hitch below the deck, and I may fab aluminum stake sides out of extruded planking…

A lot of white paint

White is not my favorite color!

Now I am working on the 5.8GHz wireless video system for the trailer… Stay tuned!