F450 Flatbed Camper Build -- High and Short vs Low and Long?

Hi, I've set-up a few F-450 and F-550 with campers, on flat beds.. you should go with the second drawing. Over hang the rear of the camper off the back. This will result in your roof-line being lower ( always a good thing) and it will be easier to get in the camper. Go see Roberto on the Bump street in San Jose and have him make some boxes to go under the camper side overhang. Have him do another box in front of the camper, behind the headache rack with doors on both sides, for storage. Since you will be on the beach, you might have him make you a couple of sand ladders too! Please tell Roberto that Rock sent you. Don't lift that Ford or screw with the suspension angles too much or you will have a lot of problems. Make sure your spare tire is easy to get at or move it to the rear- you'll prolly need it in Baja. Good luck with your project
Thanks for the Comments. Yes, we have decided to go this direction:

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I will begin posting photos as the tuck is being built.
 
The 1191 may be "designed" for one ton trucks, but that does not mean it will work well on them, at least not on an unpaved road when loaded for serious overland travel. I assume that you have actually seen and driven a 450 loaded with an 1191? How did it handle rutted dirt or passing 18 wheelers. That lovely, large cabover is a lot of weight up high and a huge sail.

One 1191 owner who did mount on a Ford F350 used a service body. As he put it, "I needed a really heavy "keel", with lots of weight down low, to keep it on the road." And that is where he tends to keep it, on, not off, the paved road. You want to go beach running and I would suggest an investment in shovels and Max Trax. (At 11,500 libs, you may be sure that mine are ready to hand.)

You may find these threads helpful:

Bob Lynch: http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/23173-F550-Flatbed-Build You may also want to follow his sub links for more cautionary tales of the danger of too much camper wagging too little truck.

Truzinski: http://www.expeditionportal.com/for...-5500-Expedition-Camper-The-build-has-started Again, note a much bigger truck and a much smaller camper.

Again, I love the Lance 1191 and devoted a lot of effort to plans to use one. If I were to do it again, I would look at the new International Terrastar 4x4, converted to run the big Continental tires.

Good luck!

Thank you.... I am loving the info found in those links you sent me. The only issue now is, I already have the camper and the truck. Hahahha... Well... this will be my first build. I will have to see how it goes and then make adjustments (if needed) in the next build. Where I am building the rig (Picket, Wisconsin), we own many acres of off road property... We will test the vehicle there in as extreme conditions as we can find, as we have equipment (tractors, etc.) there that can assist us in recovery if needed. If we do good in the testing, we will hit the road. I will keep you posted with photos and performance as we tour this vehicle this August. I think with what I have planned, it will work... Most of our off road usage will be light and limited... no wet mud, no deep sand... more conservative off roading (I think).... But... I will keep you posted.

Thanks again for pointing me to those builds... TONS of great and useful information there.
 

heimbig

OnTheRoadAtLast
the international terrastar has the same GVW as the F-550 - not saying they are the same, but have equivalent 'ratings'.
 

DiploStrat

Expedition Leader
the international terrastar has the same GVW as the F-550 - not saying they are the same, but have equivalent 'ratings'.
Neither do I. I do know that they stress the strength of their frame and it is my impression (NOT confirmed by any research) that the physical dimensions are larger.

But in any case, you have faced enough challenges building your own truck, with a much smaller and lighter camper, to be far better qualified than I to comment on this build, so I will step back, only adding:

-- 450 to 550 rating shift may be possible using air suspension tools, either bags or a full air suspension.

-- When it comes to tires for these beasts, bigger is better.

-- Similarly, I am a huge believer in the value of external reservoir shocks like Fox or King.

Finally, to our "Gringo", do not, with a gun to your head stick a storage box aft of the cab. It may look cool, but it will push your CG aft and could leave to porpoising and nasty strain on your camper mounts. I just watched them snap on a camper with a "garage" built under the cabover. You will still have plenty of room for storage.

Good luck!
 

heimbig

OnTheRoadAtLast
I think you are fine with truck and duals (I have a F-550 loaded to 19,000 and have gone on extreme roads) I did opt for super singles but my use is different. The camper to truck connection is critical and the Hackney example is a good lesson. I would never do a 3 point connection, the people who do have engineers and many years of experience and cooperation from the factory. Hackney also lengthened the frame an equally bad idea. Follow the Ford recommendation and spread the weight evenly over the truck frame. then I wouldn't bolt the 'bed' down but have it hinged (probably in the rear) to allow the camper to float over the frame when you are in extreme 4x4 conditions. For you (based on what I understand your use is) the duals shouldn't be a problem and all those sidewalls give you more stability on the road. you might also consider heavier duty sway bars and perhaps supplemental air bags but don't bother until you've built it - both can be added. A good air system is expensive.

I don't see whether you have a bed already. In order to keep weight down I'd recommend a frame instead of a flat bed specifically for your camper. if you occasionally need a flatbed throw some plywood on it OR build the frame in such a way that it could accept 2x6 floor after you stop using it for a camper or sell it. I really wish I had done that.

to keep my weight low and toward the front I built a custom 60 gal diesel tank between the frame right behind the cab that also 'floats' on the frame, and still have the factory 40. Also, right above 60 gal diesel tank in the camper is 100 gallons of water - benefit of having a custom built camper.

I haven't updated my blog (below) for a while and have a lot of updates as well as just getting back with lots experiences using it in Baja for a month.
 

DiploStrat

Expedition Leader
I haven't updated my blog (below) for a while and have a lot of updates as well as just getting back with lots experiences using it in Baja for a month.
Please do give us an update. I have been following your posts most attentively.
 
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boblynch

Adventurer
Sorry I missed this post we were on the road in June/July. We did a similar project back with a Lance830 and F550. Feel free to PM me anytime. Look forward to seeing the update.
 
Recent photos and info about my rig

Below are some photos of my rig side by side with my friend's Earthroamer. Pretty interesting. Together, we did some driving and camping up the East Cape of Baja Sur. We drove and camped a lot and I learned a lot about what I like and don't like about my vehicle and the ER. Things I am planning to do ASAP, after this trip...

1. Solar: Immediately adding 5 solar panels for 1,000 watts + two more batteries.

2. More Fresh Water: In my center box (which is super kick-***), I am adding a 60 gallon custom aluminum fresh water tank with a pump and hose... so I can simply manually add fresh water to the Lance when it is out.

3. New Rims and Tires: Adding a lift kit and converting my rig from a DRW to SRW and installing Continental MPT81 335/80R20 Tires! These were the tires the Earthroamer has on and he could drive in pretty soft sand without even having to air down. In that same sand, my dually pizza cutter got stuck instantly. One important note... I am only 16,000 pounds and he is running alittle over 18,000 pounds. So the MPT81's are an absolute MUST for me. For rims, I am not going with the Hutchinson's though... instead, in order to save some $, I will go with rims from Rickson.

The only thing I am unsure of at this point is HOW to go about doing my lift and how much lift is really needed?? If anyone could assist, I am looking for the most cost effective (but decent) option.


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xracer144

Adventurer
I am only 16,000 pounds and he is running alittle over 18,000 pounds. So the MPT81's are an absolute MUST for me. n.
That would be your gvw, not your curb weight. Since the curb weight of your truck won't be changing much, you could likely get away with several different tire wheel combinations that will perform at your weight without breaking the bank. Your curb weight will probably be somewhere in the 10,000lb range.
 

LovinPSDs

Adventurer
If I was you I'd look to stuff the tires under there with as little lift as possible. This would include bushwacker cutouts on the front, remove the factor flares, and possibly building some wheel wells into the flatbed. I know that sounds like alot of work, but I wouldn't want to get that setup an addition 6-8" off the ground for stability reasons.... 41's are a big tire. Measure measure measure and cut as much out as you can without going up!
 
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