Rut roh, truck bed cracking at tie downs

daverave

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2015
Messages
233
Location
Sacramento, CA
Hi all revered truck experts!
Back a few weeks ago from a nearly two month trip from Sacramento to Montana and back. We made an ill-advised excursion onto the Bonneville Salt Flats (Craig Breedlove!) when it was a bit wet. Realized pretty quickly that it was a bad idea as salt was getting everywhere! Went directly to a car wash and several tokens later got most of it off but even days later there was still hunks of it falling off under the truck.
Anyway, back home I got underneath the F-150 to verify that there were no hidden salt deposits and discovered that at 3 of the 4 tie down locations there was some visible cracking at the tie down bolts/plates. Seems to me to be pretty concerning to say the least? FWIW, I'm pretty diligent about keeping the turnbuckles tightened; i.e., every few days when we are doing significant off pavement, washboard, or big wind highway days.
We've been running this rig (2013 4WD F-150 with a 2016 Hawk) for about 100k miles. What is the forum's opinion on the severity of the cracking illustrated on the attached photos? Is this amount of damage something that needs immediate attention or is it, just like my aging body, something that merely needs to be monitored for now. I would imagine that any reasonable solution would involve a welder and possibly removal of the camper from the truck. $$$$$
Thanks for your thoughts,,,,
Cheers!
Dave (daverave)
 

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Two more including the one with no cracking yet. Each location does seem to have at least a little deformation of the truck bed.
 

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ski3pin said:
If it was my truck, I would immediately be looking into how to get this repaired and strengthened so it does not reoccur.
Dave, that looks nasty, I agree with Monte’s comment! I do believe you’re going to need to remove the camper from the truck, and you may need to change to a Tacoma style tie down system.
 
As a further point of reference, we had FWC install a new compressor fridge, rooftop solar panel, and batteries a few days before we left on this trip. They took the camper off the truck at the factory for that install and if there had been a problem I would have hoped that they would have noticed it and would obviously mention it to us?!?
 
Let us know what you end up doing. I have a 2019 F150, and have been concerned about the aluminum bed. On a footnote, I have managed to dimple or bend in the side of the frame on mine where the air bags sit against the side of the frame, from bottoming out repeatedly out in the utah desert. Camper is off now, working on repairs as well.
 
dave - maybe the cracks are not visible from within the bed? i would think they would have spoken up, if they saw the cracks.
 
I'd call FWC re possible solutions like the Das Mule brackets, but if the bed is aluminum I think you need alternate tie down points ASAP.
 
CreekRob said:
I'd call FWC re possible solutions like the Das Mule brackets, but if the bed is aluminum I think you need alternate tie down points ASAP.
I believe the first aluminum F150 was 2015. daverave's is a 2013.
 
I have a Grandby Shell with extras (1200 lbs) that sat on a 2016 F150 for 2 full Baja trips and had zero problems. I do think having bigger backing plates is the key..

I just got a new F150 and have decided to run the backing plates so that they sit on the cross member things on the front..
 
Laying in bed this morning I realized that FWC would not have seen the cracking when they removed the camper for the upgrades as we have a rubber mat underneath the camper that would have hidden the cracking.
Thanks to everyone for the feedback! We're going to communicate with FWC about possible solutions.
 
I hope that our story has prompted folks to check their tie down/truck bed connections from the underside for any damage! I had never looked in the nearly eight years we've had the camper on the truck. :unsure:
 
When my camper was on a F150, I had a similar issue. Removed the camper, went to my son's body shop, they welded the cracks and repainted the areas. At the time I was just using the body washers supplied by FWC. After the repair, I made large aluminum 1/4" thick plates to the underside of the bed. Problem solved !! When camper was installed onto my Super Duty 2015 (steel bed) I used the same plates with no problems and 100K of driving.
 
Does anyone here have a better understanding of the Mule front camper tie-down brackets or better yet have them on their rig? Are they attached to the front end of the truck box on the bottom or the sides?
The Mule website doesn't have much in the way of showing how they get installed or how they interface with the camper body just a poor photo of.... something per the attached photo.
 

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I've never seen one of these brackets. But, to my eyes, that is a bracket that is bolted to the frame with three bolts (we see in the photo. I suspect a fourth) and the single hole goes up through the bottom of the truck bed. The large eye bolt would be installed here. The photo is from underneath looking at the bottom of the truck bed. These look - I'm no engineer - like solid brackets that eliminate bolting (turnbuckles) only to the truckbed.
 
Agree... that is what I see also.


ski3pin said:
I've never seen one of these brackets. But, to my eyes, that is a bracket that is bolted to the frame with three bolts (we see in the photo. I suspect a fourth) and the single hole goes up through the bottom of the truck bed. The large eye bolt would be installed here. The photo is from underneath looking at the bottom of the truck bed. These look - I'm no engineer - like solid brackets that eliminate bolting (turnbuckles) only to the truckbed.
 
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