Flatbed Jeep Pickup
[an error occurred while processing this directive] Short Cuts

By: Terry L. Howe - 2/2002

I've always been a big fan of trucks with a flatbed; they just look rugged. When I bought this J-10, I just knew I had to build a flatbed for it. The original bed had rust holes through the wheel wells and around the fender flares. Restoring the original bed to usefulness would have been a very big project.

There was a certain amount of preparation required for this project in getting the materials and removing the original bed. After building the flatbed, I had to spend another half a day finishing up the project with lights and paint.


I went down to my local steel yard and purchased a bunch of steel for the project. I purchased more than I needed, but here is what I used:

In retrospect, I could have used some lighter material. I probably should have gone with 0.060 instead of the 0.083 and 0.083 instead of the 0.120. I would still get the 0.120 2x2 square tubing for the headache rack since this part of the flat bed kind of acts like a roll cage. I also think it would have been easier to work with thinner diamond plate. Anyway, the results were excellent.

Removing the Bed

Removing the bed of the truck was pretty straight forward. As is often the case with old trucks, some of the bolts where rusted solid and they had to be removed with a torch. After the bed was off, the first problem in getting ready for the flat bed was securing the gas tank. The original gas tank hangs off the bed of the truck. The skid plate bolts to the frame and to the bed of the truck.

I used some 1x2 square tubing to resolve this problem. One piece across the two middle body mounts lined up perfectly for the skid plate bolt. Another piece of tubing perpendicular to that worked well for the gas tank strap. The gas tank hovers over the skid plate, rather than resting on it. A half inch piece of 2x2 square tube makes a spacer between the two pieces of 1x2 square tube. Some gasket material between the tube and the tank stop rattling and prevent damage from vibration. Building the bracket for the gas tank was easily done in one night, after work.
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This simple design, seen from above. Some square tubing coming up from the cross member sets the height in the front. From the back, you can see how the gas tank sits in there neatly and securely.

Body Mounts

Probably, the hardest part of building the flatbed is setting up the body mounts. Some 2x4x0.120 square tubing cut at angle for two of the body mounts. In this particular area, you probably wouldn't want to use tubing thinner than 0.120 wall. The original body mount off the truck bed was used for the front body mount. A captured nut was used for the rear middle body mount. I always used flange nuts for captured nuts since they are a lot easier to weld in. The way the frame curves, this particular method will only work with a 2" body lift or more.

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The rear most body mount was made using 2x4x0.120 tubing welded on the side of the main rail for the flat bed. The front middle body mount was also made using the 2x4 tubing. Squaring of the pointy end is more attractive and safer. You can see here how the frame comes up after this mount making it impossible to make the flatbed this way without a body lift. The front mount for the flat bed was made using the old mount of the bed of the truck. It happened to be the right height, which isn't too surprising.

Flatbed Frame

After the body mounts were set on Friday night, it was an easy think to build the frame Saturday morning. I used 0.120 tube for the rails the parallel the frame and for the rail that is close to the cab of the truck. The rest of the rails are the thinner 0.083 tube. Small 1x1 tube strengthens the edges.

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The frame for the flat bed. The frame from the back. The frame from the side.

Hillbilly Brake

Saturday afternoon was spent using the "hillbilly" brake. A hillbilly brake is two pieces of angle iron in your bench vice you clamp in a piece of sheet metal, and bend it. For a project this size, the diamond plate was welded on to the frame of the flatbed, the back side of the diamond plate was scored with a cutting disk on an angle grinder, and the metal was bent with a single piece of angle iron clamped on with vice grips. A large pipe wrench was used as a handle and the BFH (big hammer) was used to finish the bend. The angle I used was some quarter inch 4x4 angle and by the time I was done, the angle iron was pretty much ruined. The results were awesome, especially considering use of the hillbilly brake. Given more time and money, I would have cut and marked all the pieces and taken them to a shop with a real brake.

Because of the shock mounts, there is only about 2-3 inches of uptravel on the back of this truck. I only had to round off the sides of the flat bed a little bit for tire clearance. I think having the little wheel opening looks nice.

The fuel fillter opening was cut out of the original truck bed and welded into the side of the flat bed. This works real well and looks professional.

Saturday night was the time to build the headache rack. 2x2x0.120 square tubing was used for this. The level of the top is sufficiently over the roof of the truck to protect it. Some 20 gauge sheet metal was used for the lower part of the headache rack to protect the back of the truck. I didn't want to obstruct the view out of the cab with expanded metal, but you see a lot of flat beds with expanded metal to protect the rear window. As well as slightly obstructing the view out the back, I thought expanded metal would make the rear window hard to clean and the extra protection seemed unnecessary. Some scraps of 3/16" diamond plate were used on the sides to gusset the rack.

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The side view. The drivers rear. The passenger rear.

Sunday morning, the back was cut out for the lights and the lights were wired up. The license plate was mounted up with a little light for it. The lights were all pulled out for painting. I was planning on painting the flat bed during my lunch break. I was prepping it for paint when my friend Sean happened to drive by and he is a painter. Rather than see me botch the job, he applied most of the material. I had some extra Durabak that I used on the lower section of the headache rack.

The flat bed looks very cool and it has been real useful. Thanks to Sean for helping me with some of the painting and thanks to Ian for helping me build portions of the flatbed.
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