The Tale of the Worry-Free Flat Bed

Nov. 01, 2002 By Shane Hook

It all started when I was hammering my rig on the trails of the infamous Johnson Valley, where I noticed other Toy drivers were shedding their excess sheet metal and ultimately building some bad ass worry-free flatbeds. Taking the worry-free idea to heart, I gave this some serious thought and took the hack saw leap.

I began the project by determining how wide and long I wanted the flat bed to be. First, I wanted it to be narrower than the body of my truck. That way if the front made it thorough the rough, I'd know the rest would follow with ease. I also wanted it to be as short as possible to help out my departure angle. One other thing I took int consideration was mounting a tool box. You never know when a Jeep owner may need some help.

Here is a picture of the final product.

Here's the material I used:

  • Two sticks of 1.5 X 2 X 1/8
  • One stick of 1.5 X 1.5 X 1/8 each stick being 20 ft long.
  • 4' X8' sheet of diamond plate steel 1/8" thick.
  • Husky brand black powder coated tool box.
  • Welder with  a lot of wire
  • Chop saw
  • SawZaw
  • Drill with drill bits
  • Grinder with a wire brush, and a grinding wheel.
The basic frame


The first thing I purchased was the tool box. I went to the local HomeDepot and bought one of thier smaller lockable boxes. The box was five-feet wide, about two-feet long, and 1.5-feet deep. And because it's made of aluminum, it weighs in at a scant, yet sturdy 25 pounds.

I should mention here that my tool box is at the heart of my flat bed Toy. The entire flat bed is designed around that neccisity. Consider this philosphy when considering a flat bed: that other than a man's will and determination, it's his tool box that'll help pull him through when times are though. With that said, I began some hand sketches that included all the necisities.

Mock up of the bed side

I drove my truck into the shop and began dismantling. First, I started by removing the bed and wiring. With the help of a fork lift it was easy.

Since my new tool box was five feet wide, my new flat bed would also be five feet wide. I then measured from the cab back to see where the end of the bed would be. This ended up being around five feet. That's right; its a square. Some of these pictures are dark, I am sorry, but the lighting in the warehouse was not the best, and I'm no Ansel Adams.

This is the start of the box, the two main runners run on top of the frame rails. I made sure that it was square by measuring the diagonal corners. Once I knew it was square, I then completely welded the steel.

Welding the flooring on

With the basic frame down, it was time to work on the sides. I decided to make a wood mock up to help me figure out what I wanted and give me the angles for cutting the steel. Once I got it to my liking, I started to cut some steel . When I had all the steel cut to size, I welded all the seams together . All (well most of them) of the welds were ground smooth. for that Bling-Bling effect.

Here we start to weld on the floor and wheel wells. I was originally going to frame out the wheel wells in square tubing, but that seemed like overkill. So I just built them out of diamond plate. I cut the plate with my sawzaw and got a some what of a straight line. Once the wheel well pieces were cut, I then welded them together, then to the frame its self. After all the plate was welded on, I flipped the bed over, and welded some of the underside braces. As you can see here, I added some extra cross members to the frame.

Front bed mount

Now we are almost done. Next I designed some simple bed mounts. At the right, you will see the front mount. Its simply some four-inch square tubing with a small piece of rubber to isolate the two pieces of metal.

After a year of having this bed on, the mounts are holding up well. I was originally going to use all four front body mounts, but that sounded like overkill.

If you're looking to do this mod, you'll need to do something with your gas filler. As you've seen in the photos, my gas filler goes in between the bottom and top rail. It's a little tricky to fill it at first, but you get the hang of it.

Here you can see the rear mount. It is on the right side of the picture. Another simple idea: use some square tubing and a piece of flat plate with a rubber isolator in-between.

Rear bed mount

To keep Johnny Law and his Lunatic Law Book happy, I had to install some mud flaps. You will notice that those are the stock mud flaps. I know. I could have used a set of Yosemite Sam "Back Off" flaps, but I'm thinking the stockers add a touch of class. You think?

Also in this picture, you can see the quick disconnect for the mud flaps. Got to keep it street legal . . . When you get to the trail, you just pull the pin and pull the mud flap out. Rather than a few seeing Yosemite Sam when following close behind, you're likely to see a few tree huggers in between the treads of this rig.

This quick disconnect was made of some scrap 1/2" pipe and some aluminum rod. The pipe was welded to the frame. Make sure its strait, or you will have a crooked mud flap. Of all the hard work, you don't need that happening.

The one inherent problem is that the mud flaps get sucked up into the tire, and just rides on top. This gets real annoying, next time I think I'll use square tubing so that the mud flap doesn't move so much.

The rear end view :-)

Here is a shot of the rear of the truck. I used common semi truck tail lights. They are only about four bucks - the price of a cheap six pack of suds. One thing to note, next time I am feeling up to it, I am going to relocate the lights. They are exposed to rocks where they rest now.

The wiring of these lights was very easy. First, I pulled out my trusty multi-meter to check the wires and find which one are brake lights, turn signals, and running lights. Once these were found, I made some quick disconnects to plug into the stock harness I just used some male spade wire connectors from Radio Shack. Once these wires were plugged into the factory harness, I used some electoral tape to seal everything up.

Before mounting the new flat bed, I had to cut the rear part of the frame off, about two inches from the rear shackle hanger. Once I had this cut off, I put a piece of square tubing as a new rear cross brace. I also flush mounted a receiver in this new cross member. Not that I tow a lot of things, but its convenient to have a receiver just in case. I then cut a hole in the bed for my Hi-Lift to fit flush with bed sides. The Hi-Lift is held in place with some straps. It will soon get a new mount with a lock. The bed of the truck now holds a 37" MTR quite nicely.

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