A flat bed truck is a very useful item on a ranch or small farm. It’s a lot easier to load and unload when you have to haul hay or straw, grain or feed sacks. If you have a regular bed truck, you can convert it into a flat bed with a little bit of effort. And you’ll save a LOT of money! If you have physical strength, patience and welding experience, you will be all set to try this. Otherwise just leave it to an experienced person. My aim here is to give you a taste of what you’d be getting into if you think you might want to do-it-yourself.
Our F-250 truck bed was getting dinged beyond recognition, and we already had another F-250 regular-bed truck that was in good shape. It was going to be helpful to have a flat bed for the various tasks we had around the place. So one day last fall we decided to just do it. The first step was to find a used flat bed frame in the classifieds. We lucked out and found one pretty close by for $600. Usually these things are standard size and construction, but it’s prudent to measure your truck before you go and to bring the tape measure when you get there. The one we found was perfect. It just needed to be sanded, primed and painted. Which we did and then it was time to attach it to the truck.
If there’s a bed liner, remove it. Look to see if screws are holding it in place. If there are remove them. Otherwise just yank ‘er on outta there. Take ‘er to your junk pile.
Have your finished flat bed on a raised platform. You will eventually be positioning the naked truck frame under it. At the Ranch we’re gerry-riggers to the Nth degree so we used old metal drums and 4×6 post beams. Be careful!
Now remove the bed from the truck. First find the bolts that attach the bed to the frame. They probably look something like this …
Remove the bolts and save them for using when you attach the flat bed.
This is where the fun begins. You have to lift the bed out gradually by jacking and pulling a little bit at a time. We didn’t have a hydraulic lift or block and tackle. We’re on a shoe string budget. At first The Husband tried to do this by brute force. Vlad the Magnificent. My opinion? I think they just need to try themselves because that’s what they do. He finally had to admit he was no superman. This is where superior brain power comes in so handy.
He used posts to brace and lift and a come-along attached to a tree to pull. Then with jockeying back and forth, all of a sudden – Voila! We did all this at the junk pile so all we had to do was drive away. Bye, bye little bed. You’ve been great!
The next step is to position the naked frame under the new flat bed. Drive carefully. This is where a helper is so handy. Once you have it exactly where you want it – lined up with the holes as close as you can – carefully lower it on to the truck frame.
Now comes the task of attaching the flat bed to the truck frame. Little problems will come up. In our case not all of the holes lined up. This is where patience and some skill come in handy. This is also where my husband’s skills as a welder really helped. Because the holes didn’t fit perfectly, he had to create new ones and because little parts of the new bed were in the way they needed to be cut off. I stood by with the garden hose to make sure he didn’t set the grass on fire. Of course we had it on as bare of ground as we could find. If we had a concrete pad inside a shop building we would have been in like Flynn. I have it in mind for when we win the lottery!
Once the bed is properly attached with the bolts that came out of the original bed, it’s time to add a wood platform and waterproof it.
Here’s the finished product all loaded up and ready to go, and we got it at a fraction of the cost of a brand new truck or even a used truck.