|Author: Jay Kopycinski June 2001||
After wheeling for a few years with a bobbed bed I decided I wanted to go one step further and switch over to a tubular bed. I wanted more clearance for larger tires, less sheetmetal to dent, and more overall clearance around the bed area.
I'd seen many bed designs, some I liked and some I didn't. Joe Chacon's design really caught my eye and I decided to use his basic design with a few ideas of my own added. Special thanks to Joe for his ideas and help towards this project!
|Rear view of the bed||Front view of the bed|
I started with two 1.5" x 1.5" x .180" wall square tubes running just above the original frame rails. I welded pieces of 2" x 3/8" thick flat bar to these tubes to provide mount tabs in six places. The six tabs attach to the original bed mounts using 1/2" bolts and nyloc nuts. (There were originally eight bed mounts but two were removed when the frame was shortened about 10-12 inches.)
I used aftermarket Jeep rubber body mount donuts between the mount tabs and the original body mount towers. These provide just a little bit of flex between the bed and frame and keep everything quiet.
|Tabs used to mount bed|
Most of the frame was made from 1.5" x 1.5" x .120" wall square tube with some pieces of 1" tube added for secondary support under the bed floor.
The hoop behind the cab and the fastback bars were constructed from 2" x .120" wall round tubing. The rear bed corners were also made from this tubing. I added a set of bolts (passing through pieces of 1" tube) to secure my Hi-Lift jack to the back of the bars. The 1/2" bolts and nylocs hold the jack in place.
The fenderwells were made from 16 gauge steel sheet. The top surfaces were built from one piece that was hand bent into three sections. The inner panels were then added and welded to the other pieces. The floor was cut from 14 gauge steel diamond plate material. The bed was painted with acrylic enamel auto body paint in the original gray metallic color. All underside surfaces were sprayed with Duplicolor undercoating.
|Bed mounted on truck|
I wanted to have plenty of storage to carry my tools and trail spares in the bed. Not finding a commercially available box that exactly suited my needs, I decided to build my own storage box from scratch. I made the box from 16 gauge sheet steel with some angle iron added inside for further support along the seams. The top was constructed from stainless sheet. I had a local metal shop form it in their brake, then I welded the corners and added a long piano hinge and locking latch hardware. This box has plenty of room to hold my Powertank, spare parts (axles, driveshafts, plus lots more), spare fluids, bottle jack and tire tools, and various other tools.
Two 50 caliber ammo boxes were mounted to the rear of the bed to provide handy storage for small items such as my tow strap and gloves.
|Rewired Suzuki taillight|
I used factory Suzuki Samurai taillights on my bed. I cut the Samurai connector off and spliced in Toyota ends to mate to my harness. These lights were easy to mount. I fabricated panels from 16 gauge steel sheet, each with a rectangular hole sized to fit the taillight. Screws, flat washers, and nylocs hold the taillights in place. These lights are quite bright and cost of aftermarket versions is about $30 each.
The license plate is recessed into the rear tube structure and I used a slightly modified aftermarket interior light to illuminate the plate.
|Mounted fuel filler||Fuel filler hose routing|
I fabricated a small steel plate and welded it to the side of the bed rail to accomodate the fuel filler. I reused all the stock pieces but did shorten the fuel filler and vent hoses by about three inches.
My spare tire is a 36" Swamper and sits in the middle of the bed. The tire is held in place with a steel plate washer I made and a t-bolt I fabricated from a 1" bolt and some round stock pieces. The bolt threads into a 1" coupling nut welded to one of the bed crossmembers under the floor.
With the bed complete, I built a new bumper to fit close to the bed, mounted high on the frame. The bumper was made from two pieces of 2" x 2" x .120" wall square tube and has a receiver hitch set into the middle of it.
Here are a few pics of the finished bed on the truck.......
Going from the bobbed sheetmetal bed and 33" x 9.50" spare tire to the tubular bed and 36" Swamper spare, I would estimate I reduced weight by about 50 lbs.....give or take.
All in all, this project was a lot of work, but I'm pleased with the results.
Thanks for reading!