F550 Flatbed Build

boblynch

Adventurer
Milo12 - you're right it all comes down to tires. As I mentioned in my initial post I am looking at a few tire choices that would make some type of wheel arch a practical way to keep COG lower.

Eddie - Thanks for the help on and offline. With the 176"WB it will be hard for me to side mount the spare (especially if it's a larger than OEM tire). I'm looking at ways to mount it on the back.

Chip - I agree that the bed and boxes should stiffen things up. However, as far as tire traction goes wouldn't it be better to let the bed and camper move together? If I go with the custom wheel arches would adding a pivot point be that much more work?

Bob
 

Joaquin Suave

OverlandHardware.com
Here is a link to my VERY GOOD friends (the Fleming brothers) website.

http://www.flemingmetal.com/

They are the makers of almost all the flatbed components for the western US. They have made aluminum flatbed components in the past. I just got off the phone with Wade Fleming and he said they'd make more aluminum rails / parts. I asked if he'd be interested in fab'ing up a complete bed and he seemed to show some interest.

PM me if you want Wade's cell phone number
 

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bronconite

Observer
I'll give up on posting the pictures and just put in a link.

http://s231.photobucket.com/albums/ee132/fisher205/flex/

I have also have broke two aluminum toppers off of one my pickups from flexing the frame. There is more flex then you think. It would be interesting to see how much a flatbed will stiffen or limit the flex. I am intending to go the flatbed route also in the future. - Brad
To post those pics directly into the thread copy the IMG Code for the pic and and paste it directly into the post.:D

 

boblynch

Adventurer
MPT81 info

Thought I'd share some tire info for those that have considered using the Continental MPT81.

I sent the following email to Continental's Industrial Division:

Still looking at possible use of the MPT81s. Quick question regarding specs. Page 55 of 108 of the Technical Data Book specifies the load capacities at various speeds. If I'm reading the table correctly the MPT81 335/80R20 147K is speed rated for 110km/hr (68.3mph) for 100 percent nominal load (6777lbs). It is also rated at 120km/hr (74.5mph) for 93 percent nominal load (6302lbs). Am I reading this correctly? Is 74mph an acceptable speed if load is below 93 percent? Please confirm or clarify.

I received the following response:

Bob,
Your assumption is correct. Thanks for your inquiry.


The MPTs are not made to set any land speed records. They are a highly capable on/off road tire with big payload capacity. However, it's nice to know a safe highway passing speed is okay if the load is within range.

I'm seriously considering the wheel/tire upgrade. The biggest thing holding me back is the cost and concerns on the required 4" lift. If anyone has a lifted 450/550 shoot me a PM about your experiences.

A camper update will be posted soon. Taking the wife for the go/no-go visit next week.

Bob
 
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boblynch

Adventurer
the camper arrived

Sorry for falling off the radar. The last few months have been very busy. We purchased a Lance truck camper (model 830). It's arrived safely and the mods have started.

It's equipped with the following standard options:
queen cabover innerspring mattress
slide out pantry
6cu ft 3-way fridge (a 12v was not available)
9000-BTU a/c
side and rear exterior lights
pass thru window
outside hot/cold shower
exterior propane quick connect
Thule roof rack
second battery

In addition we ordered the cassette toilet option. According to my dealer it's the first one they've ever sold. The added benefit is the insulated and heated space normally reserved for the black tank can be used to add a second fresh water tank.

We also convinced Lance to delete the entry steps, exterior ladder, and standard roof vents. We are going to add three Sunsei ICP solar vents instead (thanks for the tip Carl). In place of the cabover vent we added a Heki skylight with integrated screen and shade. They don't offer the Heki in this model so they had to frame ours separately ($$$). The boss lady loves it, so it was money well spent.

I've attached the floorplan. Pics to follow.

Lance830 floorplan.jpg
 

boblynch

Adventurer
Crazy idea

Lance offers a fold down rear tent (see example pic). However, it would be hard to keep warm in winter and cold in summer compared to the rest of the camper. My son and daughter were also not thrilled with the idea of sharing that space.

I liked the cassette, side door, acrylic windows and mid camper dinette. However, my real reason for picking this model was that none of the major mechanical stuff is mounted in the rear. The lower extension is just a skirt with no real purpose (see Capt Eddie's F450 thread). This made my crazy idea possible.

We are going to add a full time bunk room 32in deep. I've located a local dealer (Xtreme Campers) with the fabrication background to do the job. With a camper width of 96in there will be room for interior storage lockers at the foot of each bed and pass through exterior storage underneath. I've ordered matching Dometic acrylic windows. The finished camper will be 14in longer than the stock Lance model 830 and about 8in longer than an Earthroamer.

The initial design was done via Google SketchUp. I've included a few summary pics. The initial setup will use the factory duals. I've ordered a lift kit for the F550. Once it's on we may move to MPT81 singles. The upper boxes will be part of the camper, with wheel arches to keep the COG low. The flatbed will be a combination of 2x2 and 2x4 powdercoated steel tubing, aluminum deck, and aluminum underbody storage boxes. The current plan is to use removable fenders for the flatbed. A Superhitch and Warn 16.5Ti winch will be mounted under the rear end. We've sized the flatbed 94in wide with stake pocket rub rails extending just past the 96in wide camper. The camper tie downs will be mounted inside the upper boxes.

Work on the bunk room and flatbed starts next week.

Cheers,
Bob
Example rear tent.jpg

camper with duals.jpg

camper with MPTs.jpg

frame and boxes.jpg

deck and stake pockets.jpg
 

dzzz

Very nice, you did the right kind of "flatbed", IMO. Did you calculate for 41 inch wheels?
Yesterday I did anoth look-around for Michelin XZL 20 inch. I couldn't find any. The smallest of those tires is 37-38 inches, I think. I like that size better rather than doing a lot of cutting of sheet metal. Has anyone put the MPT81 on a ford that talks about the job? I would be more comfortable with that tire if we had the minimum requirements for installation.
 

DiploStrat

Expedition Leader
Run that by me again?

You are effectively extending the camper to make an extra "room?"

Cool! (Do me a favor and draw in two spares on the rear. Old fears die hard!)

Looks very, very nice. I'm jealous. :drool:
 

boblynch

Adventurer
Very nice, you did the right kind of "flatbed", IMO. Did you calculate for 41 inch wheels?
Yesterday I did anoth look-around for Michelin XZL 20 inch. I couldn't find any. The smallest of those tires is 37-38 inches, I think. I like that size better rather than doing a lot of cutting of sheet metal. Has anyone put the MPT81 on a ford that talks about the job? I would be more comfortable with that tire if we had the minimum requirements for installation.
The sketch with the spare on the rear is based on a 41in MPT. It may be too snug for the 36in storage boxes, but I wasn't willing to order custom boxes unless I was more sure of the tires. If we end up with MPTs and it's tight we can always modify the boxes as needed.

As far as MPT81s on Fords, Earthroamer uses very nice (but expensive Hutchinson aluminum wheels) with MPTs. Several fire truck suppliers and a few others I've found use custom steel wheels with MPTs. The two most popular are Stockton Wheels and Rickson Wheels. Dan at Rickson is very helpful if you want to talk through the process with someone. The XZLs are almost impossible to find. The MPTs are readily available. If you need help finding them send me a PM.
 

boblynch

Adventurer
You are effectively extending the camper to make an extra "room?"
Cool! (Do me a favor and draw in two spares on the rear. Old fears die hard!)
Looks very, very nice. I'm jealous. :drool:
Yes, the camper body length will be extended 32in to create a bunk room. The dual 2in receivers on the back are sized to accomodate full size spares. For most of our planned trips one spare should do. We'll use the other for a storage basket, bike rack, etc. Currently working on a drop down swivel for the tire carrier.

tire carrier.jpg
 

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DiploStrat

Expedition Leader
More Old Scars

Bob,

Rather than a complex swing up/down/aside for your spare(s), consider extending frame or other rails aft so that the tire actually rests on them. Then you just add a center plug to keep it from falling off. Imagine putting your tire in what is effectively a basket.

A tire is a lot of weight, usually placed at the extreme of your pitch axis (i.e., off the front or rear.) Thus, once the truck is in motion, the effective weight of the tire soars. (Winches do the same violence.) Part of this is, of course, a suspension issue, but remember that the strain on your spare tire carrier increases geometrically. I've spent at lot of time repairing/upgrading/discarding spare tire carriers.

If the rubber and the weight is resting directly on the frame, it takes a lot of load off of the part of the carrier that binds the wheel to the truck. Keeps everything much simpler and safer.

As an extreme example: I left Cameroon with a spare tire carrier on the front - gone half way across the desert. Drove up and down the Andes with a much larger tire on the roof. Weight of the tire rested on the roof rack, all the bracket had to do was keep it there. The Howes had the factor rear mount spare carrier fail - would have lost the tire but for their "trunk" which effectively held the tire in place until the noticed the failure.

KISS!

Good luck!
 

Joaquin Suave

OverlandHardware.com
LOOKS GREAT!!!!
I really enjoy seeing someone plan well, then spend they're hard earned money!
A couple of thoughts...
The flatbed will be a combination of 2x2 and 2x4 powdercoated steel tubing
I've used powedcoating for years, but am now veering away from it for simply one reason....Repair and/or modification of the structure. I learned this the hard way last year in Baja after the cage/kayak on Mayahual broke. I was outside of Mulege, so I went over to a buddies garage to have him weld up the rack. Because of the location of the break (at the base plates) I was'nt able to clean off the powder with a hand grinder and barely could get at it with a file. So needless to say, the repair welds were cr*p!...And broke again before we got home.
I would not surprise me if you made half a dozen changes to your structure over the years. Slap some more epoxy paint on it and call it "GOOD"!

As far as the spare tires go...Why don't you make some swing down baskets for them like on the LMTV's?

Keep up the good work!
 
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