Build: Flatbed for slide-in camper

What is your deck height preference? (tell me why in comments)

  • Maximum height (4" over stock, flat, full articulation)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Somewhere in between??

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    9

thatsatechnique

New member
Well, time to switch things up a bit. I have the perfect rig for us...or at least, it was. Our family is growing in size and numbers. The pile of recovery gear, tools, misc. in the back seat "aisle pile" has to go. You know...because the kids need an actual seat[belt].

I've been throwing around the idea of switching it all out for a flatbed model Four Wheel Camper, but the idea of starting all over (and the total upfront cost) have me hesitating. I'm also not keen on moving all the gear into the camper. I don't know about you, but I spend an awful lot of time on forums, instagram, etc. to see what others are doing. Luckily, I have been given an excuse to pull that trigger - one big nasty dent in my current bed.
IMG_20181209_110205.jpg

I don't want to be too needy, but was hoping to have it all :) Enter SherpTek. This might just be the next evolution of the truck bed and I think I can incrementally accomplish all the things.

1. Ugly dent is gone.
2. Gear organized outside the truck, but still accessible.
3. Potential for a flatbed model camper down the road
4. Making use of all the dead space - which always bothered me
IMG_20181209_115739.jpg
5. Gain infinite tie down points for all kinds of other toys :sneaky:
6. Completely custom, purpose-built solution instead of an off-the-shelf, generic tray.
7. Easily accessible turnbuckle checks without having to be a contortionist!!
contortionist.jpg

So, this is the beginning of the build and I'm pretty stoked about it. I have been working with SherpTek to figure out the exact right fit/form for the truck and camper. The best thing about this process so far has been getting to work directly with them to figure things out. It's not an off-the-shelf solution and literally anything is possible. We're talking about potential deck height options now so I will be reaching out to y'all for some sage advice and opinions! Stay tuned for more pics as things move along...

IMG_20181209_160302.jpg

Taking some measurements:
liftoff-bed.jpg
 

PV Hiker

Observer
Took a online tour on their web page. Looks like a great solution that fits the ticket for many applications. I think with the upper and lower storage you can stash a whole lot of crap. Could be good and bad as you could pack it to the gills and by doing so add more weight. Just thinking that is how I get in trouble.

My only question is the upper box access. It appears from the pictures that it is not sealed to the elements, as I think I can see the camper side material. If that is so then one might want various sizes of weather proof containers. I might want to have a strap down system for the contents to stop heavier objects denting the drop down door from the inside when items shift in a evasive maneuver or off camber hitting a bump.

Other than that looks very doable.

Keep us posted and a ruff cost estimate.
 

Bike_Mech

Adventurer
I've been wanting to stop by their shop when I'm in town for sometime, but I have yet to do it.

How much higher will the 'flatbed' be compared to stock?

-Chris
 

thatsatechnique

New member
As it turns out, we are just going over those options now. Good news - nothing is impossible :)
Because SherpTek is a custom, purpose-built solution instead of an off-the-shelf tray, they can still be pretty creative. This depends on the truck/frame of course, but for my truck it would be possible to have a virtually stock deck height by adding some wells into it only as much as needed based on suspension travel, etc. There was some serious math going on in there!

That being said, a deck with wheel wells in it is not exactly a flat bed. Solution? The hump can be removed and a flat plate put in its place for hauling (i.e. where full articulation may not be necessary). Coolest part about all that is that I get to maintain all the options for ideas or changes down the road. Kind of hard to explain without seeing it so let me know if I can try to make more sense of all that. The highest deck height which would have been (if I remember correctly) only around 4" higher than stock...not too shabby.

All that being said, here are some of the pics I just received - let me know what y'all think.

High and low options attached so it's easier to flip back and forth between and see the differences.

Stock height with wheel well option:
(I get so excited when I see this view - how much easier is it going to be to check the turnbuckles?!!)
f iso_min dek ht.JPG
 

Attachments

rbrownmr2

Observer
Very versatile. I like that you’re making what you have, work better for you. I’ll be looking forward to more photos!
 

JaSAn

Active member
I voted the way I am thinking of going: Minimum height with wheel wells.

Because:
  • Minimize frontal area. I loose ~ 1.5 MPG with the camper on; I don't know how much of that is frontal air drag, but I do get lots of bugs on the leading edge.
  • Wind noise. I don't get any additional wind noise from the camper but will raising it X inches induce some? Others have reported noise with camper on.
  • Ease of entry. I use a receiver hitch two step for entry. The top step is ~8" from the floor of the camper in truck bed; just right.
  • Fit into garage. My camper on truck just barely fits under my 8 ft door now, any additional height would eliminate the garage option.
IdaSHO: lower profile, two step entry, and garaging option is a bigger benefit to me than side entry. And until flatbed campers get to the mid 4 figure price on the used market they are out of my price range anyway.
 

topofpalomar

Enthusiast
I also voted for minimum height with wheel wells. I plan on removing our truck bed (2018 F-350 long bed) and going to a flat bed sometime in the near future and putting our Hallmark Cuchara on it. After previously having a utility bed with pop up camper I really miss the storage space with a regular truck bed. It looks like you'll have a near perfect setup.
 

Atl-atl

Adventurer
Voted minimum height with small wheel wells. You're already gaining so much storage, why limit offroad capabililty, tire size options, suspension options etc. Plus Im single and don't need much storage anyway hah!
 

Flhtruss

Observer
Thatsatechnique you mentioned off roading, raising your camper with a deck height increase of 4 inches is huge. Off camber situations will be adversely affected by this. How much do you think you would loose with a wheel well option! With your bed off you could check your articulation and get a solid number to provide your builder.
 

thatsatechnique

New member
Voted minimum height with small wheel wells. You're already gaining so much storage, why limit offroad capabililty, tire size options, suspension options etc. Plus Im single and don't need much storage anyway hah!
Sorry, maybe I wasn't saying it right - no matter the option, we get full suspension travel and articulation. There is nothing limiting about the build either way as far as wheel travel goes.

The guys at SherpTek took the bed off to do a full suspension test, took precise measurements, plugged it into some computers, and then apply their real-world knowledge before addressing any of the deck height / wheel well options. We also had a conversation about possible tire sizes and where I wanted to end up so they could account for that as well. Each of the options presented has full articulation so that's not really the issue.

We have looked at some of the mock ups and the highest deck height was flat - necessary if someone is to do a flatbed model camper in the future. It looked kinda crazy with a slide-in camper on it though due to the dimensions being different on the camper. On the flatbed campers, things are altered to account for the higher deck - not so with a camper built for a regular bed. Anyway, the appeal of the high deck height (for some) is the flat bed.

The lowest height looks stock. I'm definitely between this and the mid-range. I think having a little more space would be nice, but that's not really the appeal of the mid-range. SherpTek got pretty creative and made the wheel well removable. So, while I get full articulation with the mid-range, if for some reason I needed a truly flat bed for some reason, I could drop that 2" well and still be just fine most places short of rock crawling. Think flatbed use outside campers - hauling lumber, atvs, whatever... The mid-range appeal is the added functionality with minimal adverse effect. It also leaves just enough space for a slide-out tray down the road if we want.

While COG may be a major issue on a heavier, hard-side camper or a very small truck, the FWC is already so insignificant in my truck, that I'm not sure it matters (or at leasts isn't going to be the deciding factor) either way. I actually think the biggest challenge is the added height in regards to top clearance. I've been down some trails with overhanging trees, etc. where +2-4" would have made it a different trip.

You guys have some awesome insight - thanks for the comments!
 

thatsatechnique

New member
Just picked up this diesel heater based on some great inspiration here and here. Might end up being the first DIY project when the new bed is installed. I'm not usually one to skimp, but at 10% the cost of a Webasto, I couldn't justify anything else!

Still have to do some serious thinking/planning on exactly how to do this while tying into the vehicles fuel source but still being able to easily remove the camper. Right now, I'm thinking maybe install in the front SherpTek box closest to the fuel tank and running an air hose up & into the camper via quick connection.
 

Pacific Northwest yetti

Expedition Medic
I like the flatbed, and my truck camper. I dont think i would change to a flatbed camper either. That being said, if SharpTek had been around when i bought mine, i would of gone with them probably. Amd flat beds can be moved from full size to full size, just by grinding off the L mounting brackets if you switch brand even. Stay with the same brand- the bed mounts never change much.

I am in the process of building folding sides for mine, i just like the storage for wet, storage totes, propane tanks, fuel tanks- limitless options. or anything between the bed sides and the camper tub. Mine is higher than most though, I was going to go with a Northstar-but found a great deal on an outfitter and pulled the trigger on that. However the way they are built, it added 6-8 inches between the top if my cab and bottom of the bed portion. ( if i had known that I would of done a slightly "lower" bed height) The tanks are all as low as i can get them though, and have no issues thus far taking it anywhere.

I had a steel deck- and recently cut it off and replaced with wood w/ a rubber coating. The steel was slick, got hot on the dogs paws, and I had to have a 3/4 inch rubber stall mat on the back, which also meant pulling the mat off when needing my gooseneck. And if i bolt tool box's to the deck its easy to replace/mod cheaply. Also makes accessing things like the fuel pump easier as i can just pull part of the deck- not the entire bed, or tank. I also lost 200ibs of weight when i replaced the steel deck w/ wood.

I dont remember, but im pretty sure they do a bed liner/ruber coating over the deck. I like flatbeds, but am partial to them. I have been using flatbeds for farming and ranching my entire life, we are even starting to use flatbeds on our fire trucks now. My insurance even went down with the flatbed.

I look forward to watching this build develop.
 
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