F550 Flatbed Build

jayshapiro

Adventurer
Deluge

I contacted the brush truck firm you are referring to. They don't do civilian conversions and they don't do their own wheels. They directed me to Stockton Wheels.
HA! I contacted them too and also got sent to Stockton.

I expect that ExPo is getting big enough now that any vendor who happens to get mentioned on here then gets a dozen calls from all of us who are desperate to find some workable solution as a fix for our vehicle addiction problems.

Congrats on getting your project going. It sounds like it's going to be great!

Jay.
 

jayshapiro

Adventurer
Host as an option

PS - Bob, I'd suggest you give Dave Hogue at Host Campers a call. (tel:541-330-2328)

When I spoke to him (a little over a year ago) he seemed really pretty flexible to work with me on a custom solution. Given the current collapse in the RV market, I bet he'd be VERY willing to talk to you about a special side-entry flat-bed modified version of one of their slide-in's.

I really like their layouts and build quality.

Cheers,
Jay.
 

btggraphix

Observer
I ordered some G124s in the 225/70-19.5 for my F450 and was told they are going to a G622 tread design. My dealer found some G124s at a ford dealer locally and it was their last full set. I hope the new tread pattern works as well, but most likely not.
My results 4 months ago found the same thing...no more G124. I ended up going with XDS2 from Michellin because I drive so much on snow and ice, and I have been very pleased with them so far. I'm not sure about wear yet though. Seems like they are wearing fairly fast after maybe 7K miles on them.

Here's a couple of threads from RV.net I posted that might be interesting to you:

http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/22225169.cfm

http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fuseaction/thread/tid/22064452.cfm

I know, you get a lot more confident about burying your rig in snow when you have a handy bulldozer to pull you out......and the snow wasn't THAT deep, but I was pretty pleased at how my heavy rig did.
 

boblynch

Adventurer
My results 4 months ago found the same thing...no more G124. I ended up going with XDS2 from Michellin because I drive so much on snow and ice, and I have been very pleased with them so far. I'm not sure about wear yet though. Seems like they are wearing fairly fast after maybe 7K miles on them.
Thanks for the tire info. Funny you should post. I've been looking at Lance campers the last few weeks since ExPo member Capt Eddie added a Lance to his F450 flatbed. While at the Lance site I was looking at all the S. American pics from your rig's previous owner. Small world...

What are the dimension of your boxes top and bottom? On the rear it looks like they boxed in the frame rails that extend beyond the flatbed and mounted the rear hitch to the bottom. Is that accurate? Finally, is the flatbed itself a rigid mount to the frame or does it use a pivot frame? Any details, pics, and observations from your use to-date would be greatly appreciated.

Bob
 

Attachments

DiploStrat

Expedition Leader
Seems to me that the first question must be ...

Where are you taking this beast? United States, Latin America, Europe, Africa? (I'll skip Asia as it has been too long since I have lived there, but there are several folks here with recent experience.)

-- U.S. and Europe you can run any tire you want and probably don't need to do anything to the suspension.

-- Latin America, you might be happier with tires available on the local market. 4x4 might be useful, especially as it usually means a sturdier truck.

-- Africa (other than East and Southern) you REALLY need to look at the suspension, steel wheels, tubes, and locally available sizes. 4x4 is essential in the rains.

-- Lifting is bad if it raises the CG, stresses the driveline, and increases the shipping cost. It is good if it gets the body (and the fuel tank) out of the sand and mud.

Of course, if you have tires prepositioned in the U.S. and a way to ship them, then the equation changes again.

There is a lot of truth in the old adage of "Horses for Courses." Everything you do is a compromise.

Look forward to watching your progress.
 

boblynch

Adventurer
Where are you taking this beast? United States, Latin America, Europe, Africa?

-- U.S. and Europe you can run any tire you want and probably don't need to do anything to the suspension.

-- Lifting is bad if it raises the CG, stresses the driveline, and increases the shipping cost. It is good if it gets the body (and the fuel tank) out of the sand and mud.
The initial goal is a variety of North American trips. As I mentioned earlier, my wheel/tire goal is to provide better rough road options than the stock 225s. I agree that a high COG should be avoided.

If I can figure out a flatbed setup that lets me run the stock 225s and upgrade later without major headaches I will. However, when trying to determine flatbed, storage box, and other various dimensions, etc. I end up back at wheels and tires.

I took Mark's advice and have put most of my energy lately into camper procurement. Once that's done I'll be forced to move forward on the wheel/tire decisions.
 

milo12

Adventurer
When I was considering a flatbed I also found it all hinged on tire choices. The local custom flatbed mfg recommended I go with wheel arches. That way I could put the flatbed on the rails for the lowest CG possible and still have tire clearance for articulation. Since the arch is a separate piece it is easy to change it if later you need more clearance for bigger tires. The CG height difference is pretty significant, 4-6 inches depending on tires. The arches are nowhere near the size of the ones in a regular truck bed. They only stick up a few inches and are as narrow as needed.

With the camper on, the arches don't get in the way. You just need to build the side boxes, that go in the campers armpits(?), to accommodate them. The main downside is when the camper is not attached. You no longer have a truly flat surface to carry stuff. I don't know what you plan on using the truck for when the camper is not attached so you will have to decide if you can live with the bumps.
 

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milo12

Adventurer
I forgot to mention a very important detail. If you choose to go with arches the flatbed design is no longer driven by tire choices. It is driven by the camper. The dimension from the base (what the camper is resting on) to the underside of the cabover is all that matters. For example if that is 48 inches then the surface of the flatbed should be 46 inches or so down from the roof of the cab. It is good to have 2-3 inches between the cab roof and the underside of the cabover. Don't forget you will have a half inch thick rubber mat under the camper. Hope this helps.
 

boblynch

Adventurer
Frame Flex

For very flexible vehicles (e.g., Mogs and Fusos) or extra long frames (e.g., Jay's EcoRoamer) I understand the need to use a pivot mount rather than rigidly connect the camper to the chassis.

My question for all you guys running large trucks with demountable campers - How much frame flex do you get with the camper loaded? I'm looking at an aluminum flatbed about 10 feet long with boxes underneath. Will this flex enough over time to do damage to a conventional truck camper? Any comments, ideas, pics, etc. would be greatly appreciated.

Bob
 
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milo12

Adventurer
Dodges have a massive frame. There is no detectable flex. Of course the bad side is I can get a wheel airborne. That is the main reason for upgrading all the springs to softer longer travel springs.

I have never seen an F550 frame so I don't know how it compares to the Dodge. But I think modern Fords, Dodges and GM are all very similar.

That being said I wouldn't bolt a camper down hard. Some sort of compliance would help. For example my camper is not hard mounted. The tiedowns have springs to allow for a bit of movement. I think a rubber or spring bushing setup would be ideal.
 

Capt Eddie

Adventurer
How did I miss this thread? You are getting plenty of help on your project. Let me know if I can be of any help. I seem to have the exact setup your are trying for. I also need a 4inch lift fot inproved breakover angle. Front and rear are fine. With the box setup I have you can carry a 36inch tall spare in the side.
 

haven

Expedition Leader
The Earthroamer and the Turtle V are two expedition-oriented vehicles with large campers mounted on the F550 chassis. The designer of each vehicle chose to use a torque-free mount to protect the camper, and to enable the truck chassis to twist more easily, keeping the wheels on the ground over uneven terrain.

Bob, in your case, the extra stiffness of the flatbed will keep the truck chassis from twisting very much. I agree with Milo12 that you should be able to attach a camper to the flatbed using a type of spring loaded fastener or flexible bushing.

Chip Haven
 

fisher205

Explorer
Sorry I've missed this thread. Originally I used a bushing mount (an old rollerblade wheel) on the back and a solid mount on the front of my Alaskan on a Dodge 2500. I had intended to put cushioned mounts on the front but had put off doing so. I managed to pull out one corner of the camper and straighten out both eye hooks that it was attached to. I have have since intalled happijac cushioned mounts in the front, but still have staightend out the eye hooks since. I will try to upload pictures later including some flex tests. - Brad
 
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