Just looking for a little advice, or to bounce some ideas off the internet brain trust…
I have a regular cab long-bed Silverado. I really like the size and am very happy with the RCLB layout. For most of it’s life I’ve had a good quality water proof crossbox in the back to hold my recovery gear, tools, and even groceries, camping gear, luggage or whatever won’t fit in the cab but shouldn’t ride in the bed…
Recently we picked up a FWC Grandby and so the toolbox has been sold. I know a lot of people with truck campers stuff outdoor gear inside on the floor, install hitch racks, or store things in their backseats.
I REALLY want to keep camp setup as easy and painless as possible, and don’t like the idea of moving stuff from inside the camper to outside whenever we want to use it. I also would like to avoid anything sticking out beyond the bumpers because of what it can do to my approach/departure angles and because it looks like it’s just waiting to be destroyed in a fender bender. Not to mention the weird stuff it can do to handling to have a bunch of weight hanging out behind you..
Something I’ve always thought about truck beds is that they waste TONS of space between the inner and outer bedsides. There seems to be an opportunity to increase secure, enclosed storage.
My original thought was to build a bed. Not a flatbed exactly, and not a utility bed exactly. A bit of a hybrid I guess. I haven’t really seen anything like what I have in mind before. One thing I don’t like about flatbeds is how high they have to be mounted to allow for articulation. I don’t need a truly flat bed, so I can have wheel wells on mine, allowing the load floor to be just above the frame like the stock bed.
That will help keep my CG as low as possible, which starts to get pretty important with a camper in the back. This also allows me to eliminate the sub-frame that is so common on flatbeds, all I’d need is crossmembers. Just like the stock bed.
The bed would have built in boxes between the rear wheels and the cab running from where the bottom of the stock bed essentially is now, to basically the top of the bedrails or so. Then I’d have foldable bedsides stretching behind these, across the top of the wheel wells to the back of the bed. The bedsides would basically match the line of the original bed, but be foldable for better access to the bed and the storage available beneath the sides of the camper.
I threw together a really basic example of what I'm talking about in Sketchup and attached it.
I’m thinking aluminum for the bed to keep weight down. I know it has cracking issues because of the rigidity, but I'm sure it's possible to compensate for that. I'm open to any ideas, maybe strategic rivets?
Second option would be to cut out the lower front bedsides of my truck and essentially build aluminum boxes behind them, then strengthen the removed sheet metal and use them as doors (or door skins) to help kinda retain the stock look. The space below the bed floor, between the cab, rear fender, and bottom of the sheet metal is about 14x16x22”. Here's a facebook link to some pics of the area..
My fab skills are definitely better than my body work skills (read, NO body work skills) although aluminum is a relatively new animal for me. The bed definitely lets me customize everything exactly the way I’d like to and gives me a ton more storage and access options than just cutting up my current bed, but obviously would be a bunch more work and I’m assuming more expensive.